Space Stories: Black Holes, X-Rays, and Exploding Stars

Image (Credit): Animation showing a binary system of a large, hot blue star and a black hole orbiting each other. (ESO/L.Calçada)

Here are some recent stories of interest. Have Discovered an Especially Sneaky Black Hole

VFTS 243 is a binary system, which means it is composed of two objects that orbit a common center of mass. The first object is a very hot, blue star with 25 times the mass of the Sun, and the second is a black hole nine times more massive than the Sun. VFTS 243 is located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163,000 light-years from Earth. ESA Scaling Back Design of X-ray Astronomy Mission

Faced within increasing costs, the European Space Agency is looking for ways to revise the design of a large X-ray space telescope, an effort that could have implications for NASA’s own astrophysics programs…That effort will involve potential changes to its instrument configuration as well as creation of a science “redefinition” team to reconsider science objectives. The goal will be to develop a revised concept, called a minimum disrupted mission, that will cost ESA no more than 1.3 billion euros but still perform science expected of a flagship-class mission. Rocket Mission Using ‘Astronomical Forensics’ to Study Exploded Star

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will observe the remnants of an exploded star, uncovering new details about the eruption event while testing X-ray detector technologies for future missions. The High-Resolution Microcalorimeter X-ray Imaging, or Micro-X, experiment will launch Aug. 21 from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The mission’s target of study is some 11,000 light-years away from Earth, off the edge of the W-shaped constellation known as Cassiopeia. There, a massive bubble of radiant material known as Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short, marks the site of a brilliant stellar death.