Double Trouble in Twin Black Holes

This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the central region of the starburst galaxy M82 and contains two bright X-ray sources of special interest. New studies with Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton show that these two sources may be intermediate-mass black holes, with masses in between those of the stellar-mass and supermassive variety. These "survivor" black holes avoided falling into the center of the galaxy and could be examples of the seeds required for the growth of supermassive black holes in galaxies, including the one in the Milky Way. This is the first case where good evidence for more than one mid-sized black hole exists in a single galaxy. The evidence comes from how their X-ray emission varies over time and analysis of their X-ray brightness and spectra, i.e., the distribution of X-rays with energy. These results are interesting because they may help address the mystery of how supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies form. M82 is located about 12 million light years from Earth and is the nearest place to us where the conditions are similar to those in the early Universe, with lots of stars forming. Multiple observations of M82 have been made with Chandra beginning soon after launch. The Chandra data shown here were not used in the new research because the X-ray sources are so bright that some distortion is introduced into the X-ray spectra. To combat this, the pointing of Chandra is changed so that images of the sources are deliberately blurred, producing fewer counts in each pixel. Image credit: NASA/CXC/Tsinghua Univ./H. Feng et al.

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Senior Airman embodies the spirit of the 67th NWW Gunslinger

Whether he's conducting cyber operations or demonstrating his knowledge as he progresses in his career, this Airman personifies the cyber warrior ethos.

Senior Airman Lewis Caturia, a senior analyst of the 68th Network Warfare Squadron, drives the Electronic Systems Security Assessment mission for the 67th Network Warfare Wing. Considered by his squadron to be the premier senior analyst, Airman Caturia was the obvious choice as team captain for the unit's 2009 Cyber Gunsmoke/Turkey Shoot team. Leading four cyber analysts, Airman Caturia guaranteed the squadron was well represented. His leadership and ability to motivate enabled the team to capture the fitness and problem-solving trophies during the 67th NWW 2009 Turkey Shoot competition.

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Shuttle Managers Target May 14 for STS-132 Launch

Space Shuttle Program managers wrapped up their Flight Readiness Review on Wednesday afternoon at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Teams preparing space shuttle Atlantis for its STS-132 mission are not working any significant issues, and the May 14 target launch date will be recommended at next week's agency-level review.

Today at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, technicians are servicing Atlantis' prelaunch hypergolic propellant systems. In Houston, the astronauts will perform flight training in T-38 jets and take care of administrative duties.

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Building Planets

This artist's animation illustrates a massive asteroid belt in orbit around a star the same age and size as our Sun. Asteroids are chunks of rock from "failed" planets, which never managed to coalesce into full-sized planets. Asteroid belts can be thought of as construction sites that accompany the building of rocky planets. Announced on April 28, 2010, scientists using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility have detected water-ice and carbon-based organic compounds on the surface of an asteroid. The cold hard facts of the discovery of the frosty mixture on one of the asteroid belt's largest occupants, suggests that some asteroids, along with their celestial brethren, comets, were the water carriers for a primordial Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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