Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chandra Reads The Cosmic Bar Code Of Gas Around A Black Hole

Date:
February 18, 2000
Source:
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Summary:
An international team of astronomers has used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make an energy bar code of hot gas in the vicinity of a giant black hole. These measurements, the most precise of their kind ever made with an X-ray telescope, demonstrate the existence of a blanket of warm gas that is expanding rapidly away from the black hole.

An international team of astronomers has used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make an energy bar code of hot gas in the vicinity of a giant black hole. These measurements, the most precise of their kind ever made with an X-ray telescope, demonstrate the existence of a blanket of warm gas that is expanding rapidly away from the black hole.

The team consists of Jelle Kaastra, Rolf Mewe and Albert Brinkman of Space ResearchOrganization Netherlands in Utrecht, Duane Liedahl of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and Stefanie Komossa of Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany. A report of their findings will be published in the March issue of the European journal Astronomy &Astrophysics.

Kaastra and colleagues used the Low Energy Transmission Grating in conjunction with the High Resolution Camera to measure the number of X rays present at each energy. With this information they constructed an X-ray spectrum of the source.

Their target was the central region, or nucleus of the galaxy NGC 5548, which they observed for 24 hours. This galaxy is one of a class of galaxies known to have unusually bright nuclei that are associated with gas flowing around and into giant black holes. This inflow produces an enormous outpouring of energy that blows some of the matter away from the black hole.

Astronomers have used optical, ultraviolet, and X-ray telescopes in an effort to disentangle the complex nature of inflowing and outflowing gas at different distances from the black hole in NGC 5548. X-ray observations provide a ringside seat to the action around the black hole. By using theLow Energy Transmission Grating, the Dutch-US-German team concentrated on gas that forms a warm blanket that partially covers the innermost region where the highest energy X-rays are produced.

As the high energy X rays stream away from the vicinity of the black hole, they heat the blanketing gas to temperatures of a few million degrees, and the blanket absorbs some of the X rays from the central source. This produces dark stripes, or absorption lines in the X-ray spectrum. Bright stripes or emission lines due to emission from the blanketing gas are also present. Since eachelement has its own unique structure, these lines can be read like a cosmic bar code to take inventory of the gas. The team was able to determine what atoms the gas contains and how many, the number of electrons each atom has retained in the hostile environment of the black hole, and how the gas is moving there. They found lines from eight different elements including carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and iron. The amount of this gas was found to be about 100 times greater than that found with optical and ultraviolet observations.

The Low Energy Transmission Grating was built by the Space Research Institute of Netherlands and the Max Planck Institute under the direction of Albert Brinkman. The High Resolution Camera was built by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., under the direction of Stephen Murray.

To follow Chandra's progress or download images visit the Chandra sites at:http://chandra.harvard.eduANDhttp://chandra.nasa.gov

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program. TRW, Inc., Redondo Beach, Calif., is the prime contractor for the spacecraft. The Smithsonian's Chandra X-ray Center controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

High resolution digital versions of the X-ray spectrum (JPG, 300 dpi TIFF) and other information associated with this release are available on the Internet at: http://chandra.harvard.edu

Drs. Kaastra and Brinkman can be reached at SRON, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht TheNetherlands, phone 31-30-2538570 (Kaastra), phone 31-30-2535712 (Brinkman), fax31-30-2540860, and email J.S.Kaastra@sron.nl and A.C.Brinkman@sron.nl


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "Chandra Reads The Cosmic Bar Code Of Gas Around A Black Hole." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000217164214.htm>.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (2000, February 18). Chandra Reads The Cosmic Bar Code Of Gas Around A Black Hole. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000217164214.htm
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "Chandra Reads The Cosmic Bar Code Of Gas Around A Black Hole." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000217164214.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins