Oadby telescope in black hole study

A telescope in Oadby is playing a crucial part in observing a rare astronomical phenomenon.

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.

The outburst came from V404 Cygni, a binary system located about 8,000 light-years away that contains a black hole. Every couple of decades the black hole fires up in an outburst of high-energy light, becoming an X-ray nova. Until the Swift detection, it had been slumbering since 1989.

Dr Klaas Wiersema, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “I did these observations with the University telescope at Oadby, at around 1 am on 21 June. The image I made from part of the data I took at Oadby of this source shows V404 Cygni as the bright white star-like dot in the middle.

"V404 Cygni is very exciting, not only because it is very bright, but also because it shows very rapid brightness changes.

"Why the brightness changes so rapidly, is not very well known. With the telescope at Oadby we studied these brightness changes on very short timescales, by taking hundreds of exposures of just 3 seconds long."