Different Flavors of Black Holes

Nustar_nustar140109b_500

nustar_nustar140109b January 9th, 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A range of supermassive black holes lights up this new image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. All of the dots are active black holes tucked inside the hearts of galaxies, with colors representing different energies of X-ray light.

The red and green colors represent black holes seen previously by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (with red denoting the lowest-energy X-ray light). The color blue shows black holes recently detected by NuSTAR, which was uniquely designed to detect the highest-energy X-ray light. The black holes in this picture are between about 3 to 10 billion light-years away.

Why do some black holes produce more high-energy X-ray light than others? Astronomers say this is because the black holes are more actively feeding off surrounding clouds of dust and gas, and also because the material surrounding them is so dense that only high-energy X-ray photons can penetrate the thick screen.

NuSTAR is the first telescope capable of imaging obscured black holes at this distance using high-energy X-rays; previous telescopes operating in a similar energy range would not have been able to discern the separate host galaxies. One of the goals of the NuSTAR mission is to pinpoint the different types of distant black holes that are contributing to a diffuse X-ray glow in our sky, what is called the X-ray background. This will reveal new details about the evolution of both black holes and the galaxies that house them.

The image shows an area, called the COSMOS field, that has been studied in great detail by many telescopes (COSMOS stands for Cosmic Evolution Survey). Red and green represent X-ray light seen by Chandra with energies of 0.5 to 2 kiloelectron volts (keV), and 2 to 7 keV, respectively. Blue is 8 to 24 keV, which can only be seen by NuSTAR.

Image Source: /image/nustar/nustar140109b

Curator: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, Pasadena, CA

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
COSMOS Field
Subject - Distant Universe
Cosmology » Morphology » Deep Field
Galaxy » Component » Central Black Hole
Nustar_nustar140109b_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 10h 0m 22.3s
DEC = 2° 10’ 57.7”
Orientation
North is 23.7° CW
Field of View
54.2 x 46.0 arcminutes
Constellation
Sextans

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_red Chandra X-ray 1.2398 nm
Arrow_left_green Chandra X-ray 248.0 pm
Arrow_left_blue NuSTAR X-ray 77.5 pm
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_blue
Nustar_nustar140109b_1280
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ID
nustar140109b
Subject Category
D.6.1.1   D.5.4.6  
Subject Name
COSMOS Field
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/nustar/nustar140109b
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Chandra, Chandra, NuSTAR
Instrument
Color Assignment
Red, Green, Blue
Band
X-ray, X-ray, X-ray
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
1.2398, 0.24797, 0.07749
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
150.09282200000, 2.18268600000
Reference Dimension
3300.00, 2800.00
Reference Pixel
1585.62749701416, 1451.28930812463
Scale
-0.00027371200, 0.00027371200
Rotation
-23.66834824427
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array
URL
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
Country
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
Publisher ID
nustar
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nustar/nustar140109b
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2014-07-16 17:37:30 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.