Chandra Finds Fastest Wind From Stellar-Mass Black Hole

This artist's impression shows a binary system containing a stellar-mass black hole called IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short. The strong gravity of the black hole, on the left, is pulling gas away from a companion star on the right. This gas forms a disk of hot gas around the black hole, and the wind is driven off this disk. New observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory clocked the fastest wind ever seen blowing off a disk around this stellar-mass black hole. Stellar-mass black holes are born when extremely massive stars collapse and typically weigh between five and 10 times the mass of the Sun. 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, and matches some of the fastest winds generated by supermassive black holes, objects millions or billions of times more massive. Another unanticipated finding is that the wind, which comes from a disk of gas surrounding the black hole, may be carrying away much more material than the black hole is capturing. The high speed for the wind was estimated from a spectrum made by Chandra in 2011. A spectrum shows how intense the X-rays are at different energies. Ions emit and absorb distinct features in spectra, which allow scientists to monitor them and their behavior. A Chandra spectrum of iron ions made two months earlier showed no evidence of the high-speed wind, meaning the wind likely turns on and off over time. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

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NASA Administrator Announces Senior Leadership Changes

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Tuesday changes to his senior leadership team. Associate Administrator Chris Scolese was named director of NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Robert Lightfoot, director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will serve as acting associate administrator.

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50th Anniversary First American to Orbit Earth

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, seated right, and Sen. John Glenn address questions from the press during a briefing at Ohio State University as John Glenn's wife Annie Glenn, seated in red, looks on Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Glenn's historic flight. Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Revisiting Discovery

Sen. John Glenn and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana reminisce inside the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery in the Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility-1. Glenn flew on Discovery as a mission specialist in 1998 and Cabana served as pilot for Discovery during a mission in 1990 and another in 1992. Image Credit: NASA

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