Institute of Astronomy

X-ray

A New View of the Hot and Energetic Universe

Published on 28/11/2013 

A New View of the Hot and Energetic Universe

ESA selects the science theme for its next large mission

At its meeting in Paris today, the Science Programme Committee of the European Space Agency (ESA) selected the "The Hot and Energetic Universe" as the science theme for its next Large (L-class) mission, expected to be launched in 2028, with the power to address some of the most fundamental questions in modern astrophysics.

Clues to the Growth of the Colossus in Coma

Published on 18/09/2013 

A composite imge of the Coma cluster of galaxies, showing bothe the X-ray emission from Chandra (in pink) and the optical data from the SDSS (in white and blue).

X-ray 'echoes' map a supermassive black hole's environs

Published on 31/05/2012 

An international team of astronomers using data from the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton satellite has identified a long-sought X-ray "echo" that promises a new way to probe supersized black holes in distant galaxies.

Most big galaxies host a big central black hole containing millions of times the sun's mass. When matter streams toward one of these supermassive black holes, the galaxy's center lights up, emitting billions of times more energy than the sun. For years, astronomers have been monitoring such "active galactic nuclei" (AGN) to better understand what happens on the brink of a monster black hole.

Chandra Finds Fastest Wind from Stellar-Mass Black Hole

Published on 22/02/2012 

Astronomers (including members of the Institute of Astronomy) using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have clocked the fastest wind blowing off a disk around a stellar-mass black hole yet discovered. This result has important implications for understanding how this type of black hole behaves.

The record-breaking wind is moving about twenty million miles per hour, or about three percent the speed of light. This is nearly ten times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole.

Clusters of Galaxies

Clusters of galaxies are the largest objects in the Universe that are held together by their own gravity, and provide great tools for studying the processes that govern AGN feedback.

Accretion onto Compact Objects

A major area of research in X-ray astronomy is the accretion of matter on to black holes and neutron stars in the context of AGN and galactic X-ray binaries. Accretion is an energetic process and can give high luminosities.

X-ray Group

X-ray astronomy research in Cambridge is carried out by an active X-ray Astronomy group whose research focusses on accretion on to compact objects and the physics of clusters of galaxies.