Nasa spacecraft spots huge black hole while orbiting 'apocalypse asteroid' Bennu
A Nasa probe orbiting the so-called ‘apocalypse asteroid’ Bennu has spotted a huge black hole ‘flaring’ way out in deep space.
The space rock got its nickname because there’s a very, very small chance of it hitting Earth during the next century.
A spacecraft called OSIRIS-Rex is currently orbiting the object. It will attempt to collect a sample of the rock and return it to Earth.
But as it was speeding around the asteroid, Nasa’s probe glimpsed a black hole in the process of emitting a mighty ‘outburst’.
These dark monsters are famed for eating up anything unlucky enough to be nearby. Yet sometimes the greedy galactic gobblers emit huge burps which can be detected by humanity’s scientific instruments.
Last year, student scientists using the craft’s X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) were shocked to see a X-rays (a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to visible light but undetectable to the human eye) radiating from a ‘point off the asteroid’s edge’.
‘Our initial checks showed no previously catalogued object in that position in space,’ said Branden Allen, a Harvard research scientist and student supervisor who first spotted the hole.
The glowing object turned out to be a flaring black hole, which has now been named MAXI J0637-430.
‘Detecting this X-ray burst is a proud moment for the REXIS team. It means our instrument is performing as expected and to the level required of NASA science instruments,’ said Madeline Lambert, an MIT graduate student who worked on the instrument’s design.
The X-rays were probably produced as the black hole sucked matter from a star locked in orbit around it.
As this matter is pulled onto a spinning disc around the hole it emits a huge amount of energy.
This is why we are able to see the giant monster black hole, which is situated 30 thousand light-years away in the constellation Columba
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