Science & Tech

Chandra sees wealth of black holes in star-forming galaxies

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Could help explain relationship between black holes and star formation

Three independent teams of research scientists, including one from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to find what they suspect are groups of mid-mass black holes in starburst galaxies. In a starburst galaxy, stars form and explode at an unusually high rate. The discovery could help explain the relationship among mid-mass black holes, star formation, and how massive black holes are produced. The scientists observed what they believe are mid-mass black holes as dozens of X-ray sources. These X-ray objects appear point-like and are ten to a thousand times more luminous in X-rays than similar sources found in our own Milky Way galaxy. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, manages the Chandra program for the Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, MA.