Two Telescopes Find Massive X-Ray Emitter

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Oct. 22 (UPI) — Japanese and U.S. scientists say two space telescopes helped them detect an X-ray-emitting object previously hidden inside our Milky Way galaxy.

The object — a binary system — was revealed Wednesday when MAXI, an instrument on the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station caught it in the act of erupting with a massive blast of X-rays, reported Friday.

Astronomers around the world were quickly alerted and NASA’s Swift Observatory followed up with an urgent “target-of-opportunity” observation 9 hours later, 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,” Jamie Kennea, Swift X-ray Telescope scientist at Penn State University, said.

“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.”

The previously unknown bright X-ray source has been named MAXI J1409-619.

“The Swift observation suggests that this source is probably a neutron star or a black hole with a massive companion star located at a distance of a few tens of thousands of light years from Earth in the Milky Way,” David Burrows, Penn State lead scientist for Swift’s X-ray Telescope, said.

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