Wait! Where Did the Fireworks Galaxy Go?

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The green blob of X-rays in the lower left quadrant of the Fireworks galaxy lasted about 10 days before disappearing. (NASA/JPL-Caltech )

Astronomers Puzzle Over Short-Lived Glowing Green Light Bursts

by Jason Daley Smithsonian.com

Earlier this week, NASA released a stunning image of the so-called Fireworks galaxy, which certainly lives up to its nickname. In the frame, two blue beams and one large splash of green paint the already dazzling galaxy.

But don’t dust off your telescope lenses just yet. Those pops of color aren’t within the visible light spectrum. They’re extremely bright bursts of X-ray radiation—and the green glow vanished in the course of ten days.

At first, NASA’s NuSTAR space observatory, which was searching for supernovas, didn’t spot the green X-ray emission, known as an ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX), according to a NASA press release. But ten days later, another look at the Fireworks galaxy revealed that the source—dubbed ULX-4—had sparked to life. Another ten days after that, the Chandra X-ray Observatory failed to relocate ULX-4. The observations are detailed in The Astrophysical Journal.

“Ten days is a really short amount of time for such a bright object to appear,” says the study’s lead author and Caltech astrophysicist Hannah Earnshaw in a statement. “Usually with NuSTAR, we observe more gradual changes over time, and we don’t often observe a source multiple times in quick succession.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master's of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen - two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie - two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia - and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, two rescue pups, and two guinea pigs.

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