NASA’s NuSTAR observatory sees Mysterious Flash

A new study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, offers some possible explanations for the surprise appearance of the green source near the center of the galaxy, which came into view and disappeared in a matter of weeks.

This visible-light image of the Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946) comes from the Digital Sky Survey, and is overlaid with data from NASA’s NuSTAR observatory (in blue and green). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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The primary objective of the NuSTAR observations was to study the supernova ‘ the explosion of a star much more massive than our Sun ‘ that appears as a bright blue-green spot at upper right.

  • Publisher: Clarksville, TN Online
  • Date: 2019-09-08T06:54:44+00:00
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Quite a lot has been going on:

NASA satellite spots a mysterious green light that quickly disappeared

The main goal of the NuSTAR observations was to examine a supernova — a huge star explosion. The green blob, known as an ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX), shown at the bottom of the galaxy in the image above didn’t appear during the first observation, but showed up during a second one 10 days later. Another space telescope, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, then looked again and found the object, ULX-4, had quickly disappeared.

“Ten days is a really short amount of time for such a bright object to appear,” Hannah Earnshaw, a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech and lead author on the study, said in a statement. “Usually with NuSTAR, we observe more gradual changes over time, and we don’t often observe a source multiple times in quick succession. In this instance, we were fortunate to catch a source changing extremely quickly, which is very exciting.”

The ‘Fireworks Galaxy’ Is Exploding in X

To be fair, it’s been exploding for a while ‘ at least since 1917 (give or take the 25 million years that light takes to travel from that galaxy to Earth), when astronomers first glimpsed a large star erupting into a supernova there. Since then, scientists have detected nearly a dozen stellar explosions in the busy galaxy, but none quite like the mysterious green blotch of X-ray light visible in the image above.’

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