Unpredicted X-Ray Blasts May Show Us New Type of Space Objects

Experts in astronomy are confused by what they have seen recently. Two objects of incredible X-ray brightness appeared, becoming 100 times more powerful in no time, and calming down then for about an hour. They were shining like nothing astronomers have ever seen. The experts think it may be a completely new type of space objects.

There are many objects in the Universe that show powerful X-rays, they are called ULXs or ultra-luminous X-ray sources. In most cases they are shown within neutron stars or black holes. But these two objects were way brighter that these tremendously heavy types of bodies.

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According to the team of researchers who are working on this matter, one of the objects became the brightest ULXs they have ever seen in an elliptical galaxy like ours. In comparison with our “not-so-bright” Sun, these flares were 100 million times brighter. When calm, they show simple neutron star or black hole X-rays, but they are located in the area of old space bodies, which is an unexpected place for these two types.

They could be magnetars (new neutron stars with fierce magnetic fields), but as they are young stars, there’s no way they could appear in the place where all space bodies are quite old. Moreover, magnetars’ flare lasts for a couple of seconds, while these spend an hour to come back to their original condition.

During the research, the scientists have found an ultra-bright X-ray flare noticed back in 2005. Looking through 70 galaxies data given by the ESA XMM-Newton NASA Chandra X-ray Observatories, they have found two more flares that resemble these mysterious objects.

For a special event comes a special explanation: some scientists suggest this might have been an intermediate-mass black hole. They are considered to be black holes of a mass 100 to 1 million bigger than our star. It makes them too large to have emerged from the collapse of a single space body, yet too small to become a supermassive black hole. The latter emerge as the result of the explosion of an entire region of space.

The problem with this explanation is that intermediate-mass black holes were not discovered yet. Scientists guess they exist as a gradient between simple and supermassive black holes, but no one have proved their existence. If xraythese turn out to be IMBH, the debate that lasts for decades will be finally solved.

In case of black holes, the flares may have been caused by certain objects being sucked into the hole. When a large space body material collapses, it emits lots of energy that may cause flares, but this theory also bears many questions. For example, what object could have cause such a big flare? And why there were two similar flares in different galaxies that happened almost simultaneously?

Collecting all the possible data, the scientists continue working on the question of what these flares are, why are there so few of them, and other details. The general study on the matter was published in the Nature journal, but the study itself only begins, according to the research team.

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