Researchers unexpectedly discovered something completely different when examining asteroid Bennu. A black hole, which cavorts 30,000 light years away from us in the universe.
Students and researchers from MIT and Harvard University have discovered a black hole 30,000 light years away. This happened even though they were actually investigating asteroid Bennu.
New black hole discovered in the universe
The team, which is also responsible for the construction of the Regolith X-ray spectrometer (REXIS) on board the NASA mission OSIRIS-REx, discovered a newly flared black hole in the constellation Columba last year. REXIS is a shoebox-sized instrument designed to measure the X-radiation from the asteroid Bennu to Earth. However, in November, radiation levels from REXIS were measured that were not emanating from Bennu.
As geek.com reports, this was not a previously cataloged object, if one believes the words of Branden Allen, a Harvard researcher. He discovered that very source when he analyzed the REXIS data.
The glowing object turned out to be a newly flared black hole, first discovered by a Japanese MAXI telescope a week earlier and then confirmed by NASA. The same activity was also observed millions of miles away from Earth while REXIS was orbiting asteroid Bennu. This is the first such eruption ever recorded from interplanetary space.
“A proud moment for the REXIS team”
“The discovery of this X-ray burst is a proud moment for the REXIS team,” announced Madeline Lambert, an MIT graduate who developed the instrument’s command sequences that eventually revealed the black hole. The burst of radiation, which can only be observed from space, occurs when a black hole attracts matter from a normal star in its orbit.
Students are trained in the construction and operation of space instruments, but the greatest lesson is to always be open to discovering the unexpected, explains Richard Binzel, instrument scientist for the REXIS experiment. Nearly 100 students have been part of the REXIS team since the beginning of the NASA mission.