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What made blue and green lights shine in a distant galaxy? Scientists are stunned by this interstellar puzzle



The bright rays belong to ULX-4, short for the fourth ultraluminous X-ray source found in the fireworks galaxy, some 22 million light-years from Earth.

However, this ULX had a shorter life than its predecessors. Within 10 days of observations with NASA's NuSTAR and Chandra telescopes, it was no longer detectable, burning brightly and just as quickly becoming invisible again.

"Ten days is a really short time when such a bright object appears," said Hannah Earnshaw, Caltech researcher.

It could be a black hole or a neutron star.

In an August study, researchers wrote that the light may have come from a black hole when it swallowed a star. The gravity of a black hole dissects astral objects and creates an orbit of swirling debris that heats millions of degrees and emits X-rays.

But black holes usually nibble far longer than 1

0 days at stars, according to NASA. ULX-4 appeared and disappeared in just over a week, so it is possible that a black hole has suddenly swallowed it.

According to scientists, ULX-4 could also be a neutron star. They arise when giant stars are not massive enough to create a black hole, but collapse into an incredibly dense sphere that pushes the mass of the sun into a 20-kilometer radius, NASA said.

Neutron stars spin so fast that they are magnetic Fields act as a barrier that prevents debris from other astral objects that attract them from hitting the star and producing X-rays. Only when a piece of material passes this barrier does the star emit bright X-rays, as shown.

"It would be like trying to jump on a merry-go-round spinning at a speed of thousands of miles per hour," Earnshaw said.

This may explain the short observation range of ULX-4, NASA said. But if it does not light up again, its origin is likely to remain an intergalactic puzzle.


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