Still a 'Star' After All Those Years: A black hole in close orbit around a blue supergiant star about 6,000 light years from Earth.
Description: About a decade after its discovery in 1964, a combination of X-ray and optical observations led to the conclusion that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole - the first such identification. The Cygnus X-1 system consists of a black hole with a mass about 10 times that of the Sun in a close orbit with a blue supergiant star with a mass of about 20 Suns. Because of its brightness and close proximity, Cygnus X-1 continues to attract the interest of scientists seeking to understand the nature of black holes and how they affect their environment.
Creator/Photographer: Chandra X-ray Observatory
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999, is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. Chandra is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe. The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Medium: Chandra telescope x-ray
Persistent URL: chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/cygx1/
Repository: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Gift line: NASA/CXC/SAO
Accession number: cygx1_433