An unusual brightness, documented by NASA's Chandra telescope appears to be coming from a black hole.
A NASA space telescope has detected an incredible energy burst from a distant black hole, an explosion so intense that it boosted the black hole's X-ray brightness by at least 3,000 times, scientists say.
The outburst came from a black hole in the spiral galaxy M83, about 15 million light-years away from Earth. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers found a new object, called an ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX), that emits more X-rays than most "normal" systems in which a companion star orbits around a black hole or neutron star, the researchers said.
The observations from Chandra spanned several years, and scientists noticed that the ULX in M83 increased its X-ray brightness by at least 3,000 times.
This surprisingly sudden brightening is one of the largest changes in X-rays ever seen for this type of object, according to the researchers. In fact, ultraluminous X-ray sources do not typically have periods of dormancy. [Photos: Black Holes of the Universe]
In the accompanying image, the left is an optical view of M83. On the right is a composite image showing X-ray data from Chandra in pink and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope in blue and yellow. The ULX is located near the bottom of the composite image.