Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brilliant X-Ray

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brilliant X-Ray

Article excerpt

Astronomers in Japan, using an x-ray detector on the International Space Station, and at Pennsylvania State University, using NASA's Swift Space Observatory, are announcing the discovery of an object newly emitting x-rays, which previously had been hidden inside our Milky Way Galaxy in the constellation Centaurus.

The object--a binary system--was revealed recently when an instrument on the International Space Station named MAXI (Monitor of All-Sky X-ray Image) caught it in the act of erupting with a massive blast of x-rays known as an x-ray nova.

The MAXI mission team quickly alerted astronomers worldwide to the discovery of the new x-ray source, and NASA's Swift Observatory quickly conducted an urgent "target-of-opportunity" observation, which allowed for the location of the x-ray nova to be measured accurately.

"The collaboration between the MAXI and Swift teams allowed us to quickly and accurately identify this new object," says Jamie Kennea, the Swift X-ray Telescope instrument scientist at Pennsylvania State University, who is leading the Swift analysis. "MAXI and Swift's abilities are uniquely complementary, and in this case have provided a discovery that would not have been possible without combining the knowledge obtained from both. …

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