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Chandra X-ray Observatory image reveals growth of Black Holes over Billions of Years: NASA

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NASA plans to Crash a Refrigerator-Sized Spacecraft. VOA

Washington, Jan 6, 2017: NASA said its Chandra X-ray Observatory has obtained an image that gives astronomers the best look yet at the growth of black holes over billions of years beginning soon after the Big Bang.

This is the deepest X-ray image ever obtained, collected with about eleven and a half weeks of Chandra observing time, the US space agency said in a statement.

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The image comes from what is known as the Chandra Deep Field-South. The central region of the image contains the highest concentration of supermassive black holes ever seen.

“With this one amazing picture, we can explore the earliest days of black holes in the universe and see how they change over billions of years,” said Pennsylvania State University’s Niel Brandt, who led a team of astronomers studying the deep image.

About 70 per cent of the objects in the new image are supermassive black holes, which may range in mass from about 100,000 to 10 billion times the mass of the Sun.

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Gas falling towards these black holes becomes much hotter as it approaches the event horizon, or point of no return, producing bright X-ray emission.

“It can be very difficult to detect black holes in the early Universe because they are so far away and they only produce radiation if they’re actively pulling in matter,” team member Bin Luo of Nanjing University in China noted.

“But by staring long enough with Chandra, we can find and study large numbers of growing black holes, some of which appear not long after the Big Bang,” Luo added.

The new ultra-deep X-ray image allows scientists to explore ideas about how supermassive black holes grew about one to two billion years after the Big Bang.

Using these data, the researchers showed that these black holes in the early universe grow mostly in bursts, rather than via the slow accumulation of matter.

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The scientists also found hints that the seeds for supermassive black holes may be “heavy” with masses about 10,000 to 100,000 times that of the Sun, rather than light seeds with about 100 times the Sun’s mass.

This addresses an important mystery in astrophysics about how these objects can grow so quickly to reach masses of about a billion times the Sun in the early universe.

For the study, the team combined the Chandra X-ray data with very deep Hubble Space Telescope data over the same patch of sky.

These results were presented at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, Texas. (IANS)

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NASA Asks American Aerospace Companies to Offer Detailed Ideas for Future Lunar Lander

NASA called the request for input a "major step" forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis

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FILE - NASA's Space Launch System mobile launcher rolls on a crawler-transporter for months of testing before the launch of Artemis 1 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 27, 2019. VOA

U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024, an American objective that was reconfirmed on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

NASA called the request for input a “major step” forward for its new moon mission, dubbed Artemis — who in Greek mythology was Apollo’s twin sister.

The space agency published documents explaining in detail what it is looking for in a lunar lander that will bring the two astronauts, one a woman, to the moon’s south pole, where they will stay for six-and-a-half days.

In May, 11 companies including sector mainstays Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were picked to lead feasibility studies and develop prototypes by November. Also on the list were newcomers such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

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FILE – Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men to land on the moon, plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface, July 20, 1969. VOA

That same month, Blue Origin unveiled its lander project, Blue Moon.

Now, NASA has provided dozens of pages of specifications that must be met in terms of onboard electronics, communications, and spacesuits.

Any company can reply, not just the 11 shortlisted earlier in the year.

“On the heels of the 50th Anniversary of #Apollo11, we’ve just issued a draft solicitation asking US companies to help us develop the 21st century human landing system that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

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Behind schedule

After receiving the responses, NASA is expected to make a decision in a matter of months as to which company will build the lander and how.

It will be the equivalent of the lunar module that took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in 1969.

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U.S. space agency NASA on Monday asked American aerospace companies to offer detailed ideas for vehicles that could bring two astronauts to the moon by 2024. Pixabay

One important difference will be that the lander will berth at a mini moon-orbiting space station, called Gateway, as a kind of port between Earth and the moon. That will allow for the lander to be reused and refueled.

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For now, the Artemis mission is behind schedule, mainly due to delays in the construction of the huge, single-use Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which is primarily being made by Boeing. (VOA)