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NASA NuSTAR Discovers Chorus of Black Holes, Solves Mystery of X-Ray Songs

Aug 01, 2016 02:41 AM EDT
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NASA's WISE Telescope Reveals Millions Of Black Holes
IN SPACE: In this handout from NASA/ESA, an artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) revealed millions of potential black holes in its survey of the sky in 2011. The WISE telescope, which ceased operation is February of 2011 after it ran out of coolant to keep its electronics cool, made the full sky image and was released to the public in March with hopes of astronomers making discoveries.
(Photo : Photo by NASA/ESAvia Getty Images)

Just like the movies where every scene has background music, the universe too has an infinite loop of its own. After surveying the largest cosmic gig, NASA has finally identified the black holes that create these x-ray sounds - all this with the help of NuSTAR.

NuSTAR stands for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array. It's a device used by NASA to locate black holes which emit high-energy x-rays. The chorus of black holes that emitted the x-ray sounds were spotted and studied by astronomers at the Californian Institute of Technology. These cosmic x-rays produce sounds at the highest pitch.

"We knew this cosmic choir had a strong high-pitched component, but we still don't know if it comes from a lot of smaller, quiet singers, or a few with loud voices," stated Daniel Stern, project scientist of NuSTAR located in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Now, thanks to NuSTAR, we're gaining a better understanding of the black holes and starting to address these questions."

Chandra X-ray observatory by NASA deduced that the black holes made the sounds. Yet, what exactly causes these cosmic x-ray sounds? The "background music" occurs when black holes consume their surroundings.

"We knew this cosmic choir had a strong high-pitched component, but we still don't know if it comes from a lot of smaller, quiet singers, or a few with loud voices," added Stern. "Now, thanks to NuSTAR, we're gaining a better understanding of the black holes and starting to address these questions."

The discovery, thanks to NuSTAR, finally explains the mysterious songs caused by the black holes. According to NASA, the high-pitched "voices" caused by black holes are the most difficult to define. Long before NuSTAR, astronomers had difficulties in establishing patterns involving black holes.

NuSTAR was created thanks to a partnership between the Danish Technical University and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Since the creation of NuSTAR, 32 black holes in the universe have been discovered. It has resolved approximately 35 percent of x-ray songs caused by black holes.

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