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News Release Archive:

News Release 66 of 122

November 18, 2002 10:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2002-30

Fast-Flying Black Hole Yields Clues to Supernova Origin

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Image: Artist's View of Black Hole and Companion Star GRO J1655-40

Artist's View of Black Hole and Companion Star GRO J1655-40STScI-PRC2002-30 Artist's Concept

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GRO J1655-40 is the second so-called 'microquasar' discovered in our Galaxy. Microquasars are black holes of about the same mass as a star. They behave as scaled-down versions of much more massive black holes that are at the cores of extremely active galaxies, called quasars. Astronomers have known about the existence of stellar-mass black holes since the early 1970s. Their masses can range from 3.5 to approximately 15 times the mass of our Sun.

Using Hubble data, astronomers were able to describe the black-hole system. The companion star had apparently survived the original supernova explosion that created the black hole. It is an aging star that completes an orbit around the black hole every 2.6 days. It is being slowly devoured by the black hole. Blowtorch-like jets (shown in blue) are streaming away from the black-hole system at 90 percent of the speed of light.

Object Name: GRO J1655-40

Image Type: Artwork

Illustration Credit: ESA, NASA, and Felix Mirabel (French Atomic Energy Commission and Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics/Conicet of Argentina)

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