Chandra and optical image of M74
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U. of Michigan/J.Liu et al.; Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/T.Boroson

The Ultra Luminous

Extraordinary measures are implied when an object is so bright it should blow itself apart. Such are the Ultraluminous X-ray sources, objects whose X-ray brightnesses are so large that the pressure of the X-radiation should be greater than gravity for a "normal" mass object. An example is shown in the image above. This image shows an optical picture of the spiral galaxy M74 along with observed X-ray sources (detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory) in red. The box shows an ultraluminous X-ray source detected by Chandra. This source apparently shows very rapid variability indicating a very compact object. What could such an object be? Astronomers suspect an intermediate mass black hole, one more massive than a few solar masses but less massive than the million (or billion) solar mass black holes found at the centers of galaxies.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:20:51 EDT