new Swift X-ray sources
Credit: P. A. Evans et al.; U. Leceister; NASA

New Sources for a New Year

The Swift satellite observatory, launched November 20, 2004, is primarily a Gamma-Ray Burst hunter. It's equipped with a coded mask gamma-ray telescope to quickly detect and localize GRBs. It also is equipped with an X-ray telescope to provide finer positions of the X-ray afterglows, along with an ultraviolet & optical telescope to study the burst's UV and optical emission. Swift has provided watershed observations of GRBs and helped usher in a new era in GRB physics. But that's not all Swift does. In between bursts, Swift uses its X-ray telescope to probe the X-ray sky. These observations allow the Swift X-ray Telescope to make important observations of known and serendipitous X-ray sources. Scientists with the Swift project have analyzed eight years of these extraordinary X-ray data and have catalogued all the X-ray sources seen by the XRT during that time. This catalog, the first Swift X-ray Point Source Catalog, contains over 150,000 objects. The image above shows the distribution of these Swift XRT sources on the sky. This rich treasure-trove helps astronomers understand the sources of X-ray emission from stars, galaxies, compact objects and black holes, and will point the way for important follow-up observations with other space-based X-ray telescopes like the Chandra X-ray Observatory, XMM-Newton, and NuSTAR.
Published: January 6, 2014

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!
Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 13-Jan-2014 06:14:58 EST