May 10

M31: Nearby Black Hole is Feeble and Unpredictable

Source: Chandra

A detailed study of Chandra observations over ten years shows that M31* was in a very dim, or quiet, state from 1999 to the beginning of 2006. However, on January 6, 2006, the black hole became more than a hundred times brighter, suggesting an outburst of X-rays. This was the first time such an event had been seen from a supermassive black hole in the nearby, local universe. After the outburst, M31* entered another relatively dim state, but was almost ten times brighter on average than before 2006. The outburst suggests a relatively high rate of matter falling onto M31* followed by a smaller, but still significant rate. (read more)

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