Taking the Pulse of a Black Hole System

GRS 1915+105
This optical and infrared image from the Digitized Sky Survey shows the crowded field around the binary system GRS 1915+105 (GRS 1915 for short) located near the plane of our Galaxy. The top-left inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image of GRS 1915 , and the bottom-right inset shows the remarkable "heartbeats" seen in the X-ray light from this system. Using Chandra and the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), astronomers have discovered what drives these heartbeats and given new insight into the ways that black holes can regulate their intake and severely curtail their growth.


4C+00.58: Black Hole Jerked Around Twice

4C0058 in X-ray, Radio and Optical
4C+00.58 is a galaxy harboring a giant black hole about 780 million light years away.


Black Hole Blows Big Bubble

NGC 7793

Combined data from Chandra (red, green, and blue) as well as optical light (light blue) and hydrogen emission (gold) reveals a “microquasar” in the galaxy NGC 7793. This system contains a stellar-mass black hole that is being fed by a companion star, shown in X-rays in the upper inset. Material falling onto the black hole is blowing outward via two powerful jets that plow into the surrounding gas and heat it. The lower inset shows the nebula that is being illuminated by the output from these jets.


Peering Into The Heart of Darkness

Sagittarius A*

Astronomers have long known that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short), is a particularly poor eater. The fuel for this black hole comes from powerful winds blown off dozens of massive young stars that are concentrated nearby. These stars are located a relatively large distance away from Sgr A*, where the gravity of the black hole is weak, and so their high-velocity winds are difficult for the black hole to capture and swallow. Scientists have previously calculated that Sgr A* should consume only about 1% of the fuel carried in the winds.


Black Holes Go "Mano A Mano"

NGC 6240

This image of NGC 6240 contains new X-ray data from Chandra (shown in red, orange, and yellow) that has been combined with an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope originally released in 2008. In 2002, the discovery of two merging black holes was announced based on Chandra data in this galaxy. The two black holes are a mere 3,000 light years apart and are seen as the bright point-like sources in the middle of the image.


An Oldie But Goodie

Last week, we released the Chandra image of an object known as Cygnus X-1. At first glance, Cygnus X-1 might not look that important – even with Chandra’s excellent X-ray vision – but this is one case where it’s good not to judge a book by its cover.

Cygnus X-1


Ghost Remains After Black Hole Eruption

This is a composite image showing a small region of the Chandra Deep Field North. Shown in blue is a deep image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and in red is an image from the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) an array of radio telescopes based in Great Britain. An optical image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is shown in white, yellow and orange.
Chandra Images


Erratic Black Hole Regulates Itself

This optical and infrared image from the Digitized Sky Survey shows the crowded field around the micro-quasar GRS 1915+105 (GRS 1915 for short) located near the plane of our Galaxy. The inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image of GRS 1915, one of the brightest X-ray sources in the Milky Way galaxy. This micro-quasar contains a black hole about 14 times the mass of the Sun that is feeding off material from a nearby companion star. As the material swirls toward the black hole, an accretion disk forms.


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