Space

NuSTAR observes previously unknown X-ray binaries in the nearby Andromeda galaxy

NuSTAR observes previously unk...
Image of the Andromeda galaxy, highlighting the relative position of the 40 newly-discovered X-ray binaries
Image of the Andromeda galaxy, highlighting the relative position of the 40 newly-discovered X-ray binaries
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Image of the Andromeda galaxy, highlighting the relative position of the 40 newly-discovered X-ray binaries
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Image of the Andromeda galaxy, highlighting the relative position of the 40 newly-discovered X-ray binaries

NASA's NuclearSpectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) observatory has discovered 40previously unknown X-ray binaries in the nearby Andromeda galaxy(M31). Astronomers believe that these phenomena may have played a keypart in heating up clouds of gas that existed in the aftermath of theBig Bang, aiding in the creation of the first galaxies.

X-ray binaries are madeup of two bodies. One component is a former star, which, followingits demise in a dramatic supernova, leaves a remanent in the form ofeither a neutron star, or a black hole.

This remnant isaccompanied by a companion star. Material from the companion staroccasionally overflows its influence and is caught in thegravitational pull of the remanent body. As this material is drawnfarther in it becomes super-heated, and releases intense X-rayemissions.

M31 sits roughly 2.5million light-years away, representing a reasonable facsimile to ourown galaxy the Milky Way. By analyzing the phenomena in a nearby Milky Way-like environment, astronomers can form a greaterunderstanding of X-ray binaries, and use these insights to createmodels for more distant galaxies that cannot be so easily observed.

Further scrutiny of thebinaries may also highlight disparities in the process of starevolutionism M31 when compared to stellar bodies that developed inthe Milky Way. Moving forward, the team hopes to identify which of the40 newly-discovered X-ray binaries represent black holes feeding offstellar material, and which denote the presence of a neutron star.

Source: NASA

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