26
May 10

NASA's Swift Survey finds 'Smoking Gun' of Black Hole Activation

Source: NASA/SWIFT

Data from an ongoing survey by NASA's Swift satellite have helped astronomers solve a decades-long mystery about why a small percentage of black holes emit vast amounts of energy.

Only about one percent of supermassive black holes exhibit this behavior. The new findings confirm that black holes "light up" when galaxies collide, and the data may offer insight into the future behavior of the black hole in our own Milky Way galaxy. The study will appear in the June 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The intense emission from galaxy centers, or nuclei, arises near a supermassive black hole containing between a million and a billion times the sun's mass. Giving off as much as 10 billion times the sun's energy, some of these active galactic nuclei (AGN) are the most luminous objects in the universe. They include quasars and blazars. (read more)

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26
May 10

Herschel reveals new stars in a stellar cocoon

Source: ESA - oshi

This glowing core is the stellar equivalent of an insect’s cocoon. Nestled in the bright centre are two newly forming stars. When they reach maturity they will begin to generate their own energy and shine out across the Universe.

Small, isolated clouds of forming stars are known as Bok Globules after the 20th century astronomer Bart Bok. Back in the 1940s, their identification was an important step towards the realisation that stars form from the condensation of gas clouds in space.

It was not until the Infrared Astronomical Satellite was launched in the 1980s, and the era of space-based infrared astronomy began, that the idea of Bok Globules as stellar cocoons was confirmed by João Yun and co-authors. (read more)

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