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Astronomers Use Massive Cluster of Galaxies as X-Ray Magnifying Glass to Spot Tiny Dwarf Galaxy

What they detected appears to be a blue speck of an infant galaxy, about 1/10,000 the size of our Milky Way, in the midst of churning out

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Astronomers, Galaxies, X-Ray
While galaxy clusters have been used to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, this is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme, distant, X-ray-emitting phenomena. Pixabay

Using a massive cluster of galaxies as an X-ray magnifying glass, astronomers have spotted a tiny dwarf galaxy in the first, super-energetic stages of star formation.

The new lens technique allowed the astronomers to peer back in time, to nearly 9.4 billion years ago.

While galaxy clusters have been used to magnify objects at optical wavelengths, this is the first time scientists have leveraged these massive gravitational giants to zoom in on extreme, distant, X-ray-emitting phenomena.

What they detected appears to be a blue speck of an infant galaxy, about 1/10,000 the size of our Milky Way, in the midst of churning out its first stars — supermassive, cosmically short-lived objects that emit high-energy X-rays, which the researchers detected in the form of a bright blue arc.

Astronomers, Galaxies, X-Ray
The new lens technique allowed the astronomers to peer back in time, to nearly 9.4 billion years ago. Pixabay

“It’s this little blue smudge, meaning it’s a very small galaxy that contains a lot of super-hot, very massive young stars that formed recently,” said Matthew Bayliss, a research scientist in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

“This galaxy is similar to the very first galaxies that formed in the universe … the kind of which no one has ever seen in X-ray in the distant universe before.”

The detection of this single, distant galaxy is proof that scientists can use galaxy clusters as natural X-ray magnifiers, to pick out extreme, highly energetic phenomena in the universe’s early history, Bayliss said.

“With this technique, we could, in the future, zoom in on a distant galaxy and age-date different parts of it — to say, this part has stars that formed 200 million years ago, versus another part that formed 50 million years ago, and pick them apart in a way you cannot otherwise do,” said Bayliss.

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The findings have been published in the journal Nature Astronomy. (IANS)

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Astronomers Discover a Disc Very Close to Starving Black Hole

The presence of the black hole disc in such a low-luminosity active galaxy has astronomers surprised

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Astronomers, Disc, Black Hole
The unexpected thin disc of material was found encircling a supermassive black hole at the heart of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147. Pixabay

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a disc very close to a starving black hole – something that should not be there – based on current astronomical theories.

The unexpected thin disc of material was found encircling a supermassive black hole at the heart of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, located 130 million light-years away, according to a study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The presence of the black hole disc in such a low-luminosity active galaxy has astronomers surprised.

Black holes in certain types of galaxies such as NGC 3147 are considered to be starving as there is insufficient gravitationally captured material to feed them regularly.

Astronomers, Disc, Black Hole
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a disc very close to a starving black hole. Pixabay

It is therefore puzzling that there is a thin disc encircling a starving black hole that mimics the much larger discs found in extremely active galaxies, the study said.

The disc’s material was measured by Hubble to be whirling around the black hole at more than 10 per cent of the speed of light.

At such extreme velocities, the gas appears to brighten as it travels toward Earth on one side, and dims as it speeds away from our planet on the other. This effect is known as relativistic beaming.

Hubble’s observations also show that the gas is embedded so deep in a gravitational well that light is struggling to escape, and therefore appears stretched to redder wavelengths. The black hole’s mass is around 250 million times that of the Sun.

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“This is an intriguing peek at a disc very close to a black hole, so close that the velocities and the intensity of the gravitational pull are affecting how we see the photons of light,” explained the study’s first author Stefano Bianchi of Roma Tre University in Italy.

Of particular interest, this disc of material circling the black hole offers researchers a unique opportunity to test Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity.

“We’ve never seen the effects of both general and special relativity in visible light with this much clarity,” said Marco Chiaberge of the European Space Agency, and the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland. (IANS)