SCIENCE

Large Cosmic Gig In The Sky Surveyed By NuSTAR, Singing X-Rays Identified

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jul, 30, 2016, 04:35 PM
Tags : nustar, NASA, space
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M83 Galaxy
(Photo : REUTERS/NASA) The ubiquitous image of the galaxy in the popular world is the spiral galaxy, but they share little in common with the universe's early galaxies.

Did you know that the universe has background music looping infinitely? Scientists have the best ears for it, and now they also know what precisely out there is making these X-ray sounds.

To find them, NASA's scientists used the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) to find black holes that radiate high-energy X-rays.

"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," study co-author Daniel Stern, NuSTAR project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. "Now, thanks to NuSTAR, we're gaining a better understanding of the black holes and starting to address these questions."

The cosmic X-ray background occurs when black holes consume their surroundings, like gas and dust, letting off powerful X-ray bursts in the process. The X-rays come from millions of black holes screaming as the material being sucked is accelerated to nearly the speed of light, thus creating the cosmic X-ray background.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was able to deduce some of the black holes making the wild X-ray sounds, but the highest pitched sounds were still lost in the noise.

"We've gone from resolving just two percent of the high-energy X-ray background to 35 percent," Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator and lead author of the new study describing the findings. "We can see the most obscured black holes, hidden in thick gas and dust."

NuSTAR is the first telescope capable of turning the high-energy X-rays into images. Thanks to the telescope, astronomers will take more images of the high-energy X-ray background and get a better understanding of the choir currently resonating in the universe.

"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," said co-author Daniel Stern, the project scientist for NuSTAR at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Now, thanks to NuSTAR, we're gaining a better understanding of the black holes and starting to address these questions."

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