Two Clemson University scientists, as part of an international team, discovered a stellar mass black hole in Andromeda, a spiral galaxy about 2.6 million light-years from Earth.
The research team, which included scientists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, confirmed what scientists had suspected when they found an unusual X-ray transient light source in Andromeda.
“The brightness suggested that these X-rays belonged to the class of ultraluminous X-ray sources, or ULXs,” said Amanpreet Kaur, a Clemson graduate student in physics and lead author of the paper published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics Journal. “But ULXs are rare. There are none at all in the Milky Way where Earth is located, and this is the first to be confirmed in Andromeda. Proving it required detailed observations.”
Working with scientists in Germany and Spain, the Clemson researchers studied data from NASA’s Chandra satellite observatory and proved that the X-ray source was a stellar mass black hole that is swallowing material at very high rates.