Ultraluminous X-ray Sources in M82 Galaxy

Nustar_nustar141008a1_1024

nustar_nustar141008a1 October 8th, 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO

This image shows the core of galaxy Messier 82 (M82), where two ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs, reside (X-1 and X-2). ULXs are regions that shine intensely with X-rays. Astronomers previously believed that all ULXs were the result of actively feeding black holes; as the black holes pull matter onto them from companion stars, the matter heats up and blazes with X-rays.

NuSTAR has added a new twist to the mystery of ULXs by showing that one of the ULXs in M82, called M82 X-2, is not a black hole but a pulsar. The observatory's high-energy X-ray observations caught a telltale pulse of X-rays coming from the object. A pulsar is a leftover core of an exploded star that sends out rotating beams of high-energy radiation. Pulsars are not as massive as black holes, so researchers are confounded by the immense amount of radiation pouring out of this relatively puny, compact object.

Meanwhile, other researchers, using data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, recently found evidence that the other ULX in M82, called M82 X-1, is indeed a black hole. They think it might belong to a long-sought intermediate-mass class -- a missing link between smaller, stellar-mass black holes and the gargantuan ones that dominate the centers of most galaxies. Together, these results suggest that ULXs may be more diverse than once believed.

The image is a combination of high-energy X-ray data taken by NuSTAR (pink) and lower-energy X-rays captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue).

Image Source: https://nustar.caltech.edu/image/nustar141008a1

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

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

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Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Cigar Galaxy Messier 82 M82 NGC 3034
Subject - Milky Way
Galaxy > Type > Irregular
Galaxy > Activity > Starburst

Distance

Universescale2
11,700,000 light years
Nustar_nustar141008a1_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 9h 55m 51.2s
DEC = 69° 40’ 45.5”
Orientation
North is up
Constellation
Ursa Major

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_magenta NuSTAR X-ray 62.0 pm
Arrow_left_cyan Chandra (ACIS) X-ray 413.3 pm
Spectrum_xray1w
Arrow_top_magenta
Arrow_top_cyan
Nustar_nustar141008a1_1280
×
ID
nustar141008a1
Subject Category
B.5.1.6   B.5.3.3  
Subject Name
Cigar Galaxy, Messier 82, M82, NGC 3034
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO
Release Date
2014-10-08
Lightyears
11,700,000
Redshift
0.000677
Reference Url
https://nustar.caltech.edu/image/nustar141008a1
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
NuSTAR, Chandra
Instrument
-, ACIS
Color Assignment
Magenta, Cyan
Band
X-ray, X-ray
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
0.061992, 0.41328
Start Time
2002-03-06T07:22
Integration Time
1.
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
Reference Value
148.9632870, 69.6792982
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Position
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
Metadata Date
2018-06-21T00:28:51Z
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
11,700,000 light years