Aerospace & Defense
Swift Spacecraft Catches Milky Way Galaxy Transformations Over Last Seven Years
This sequence from the X-ray Telescope aboard NASA's Swift spacecraft shows changes in the central region of the Milky Way galaxy from 2006 through 2013. Watch for flares from binary systems containing a neutron star or black hole and the changing brightness of Sgr A* (center), the galaxy's monster black hole. To date, Swift's XRT has detected six bright flares during which the black hole's X-ray emission was as much as 150 times brighter for a couple of hours. These new detections enabled the team to estimate that similar flares occur every five to 10 days. Scientists will look at differences between the outbursts to decipher their physical nature.