NASA News - NASA TV to Air 2012 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction May 5

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Television will provide live coverage of
the 2012 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 3 p.m. EDT
on Saturday, May 5. The ceremony will take place at NASA's Kennedy
Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Joining the Hall of Fame this year are former astronauts Franklin
Chang-Diaz, Kevin Chilton and Charles Precourt. Chang-Diaz, a veteran
of seven space shuttle flights, has logged more than 1,601 hours in
space. Chilton, the pilot on space shuttle Endeavour's maiden voyage
in 1992, served as the commander of shuttle Atlantis' STS-76 mission
to the Russian space station Mir in 1996. Precourt flew on four space
shuttle missions from 1993 to 1998, three of which were to Mir. This
will be the 11th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the Hall
of Fame, bringing the total number of space explorers inducted to 82.

More than 28 Hall of Fame astronauts have accepted invitations to
attend the ceremony, including Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter,
Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham and space shuttle astronaut Bruce

Reporters interested in covering the event should contact Andrea
Farmer at 321-449-4318.

For more information about the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, visit:


For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming
video, visit:



NASA'S Chandra Sees Remarkable Outburst from Old Black Hole

WASHINGTON -- An extraordinary outburst produced by a black hole in a
nearby galaxy has provided direct evidence for a population of old,
volatile stellar black holes. The discovery, made by astronomers
using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, provides new insight into the
nature of a mysterious class of black holes that can produce as much
energy in X-rays as a million suns radiate at all wavelengths.

Researchers used Chandra to discover a new ultraluminous X-ray source,
or ULX. These objects give off more X-rays than most binary systems,
in which a companion star orbits the remains of a collapsed star.
These collapsed stars form either a dense core called a neutron star
or a black hole. The extra X-ray emission suggests ULXs contain black
holes that might be much more massive than the ones found elsewhere
in our galaxy.

The companion stars to ULXs, when identified, are usually young,
massive stars, implying their black holes are also young. The latest
research, however, provides direct evidence that ULXs can contain
much older black holes and some sources may have been misidentified
as young ones.

The intriguing new ULX is located in M83, a spiral galaxy about 15
million light years from Earth, discovered in 2010 with Chandra.
Astronomers compared this data with Chandra images from 2000 and
2001, which showed the source had increased in X-ray brightness by at
least 3,000 times and has since become the brightest X-ray source in M83.

The sudden brightening of the M83 ULX is one of the largest changes in
X-rays ever seen for this type of object, which do not usually show
dormant periods. No sign of the ULX was found in historical X-ray
images made with Einstein Observatory in 1980, ROSAT in 1994, the
European Space Agency's XMM-Newton in 2003 and 2008, or NASA's Swift
observatory in 2005.

"The flaring up of this ULX took us by surprise and was a sure sign we
had discovered something new about the way black holes grow," said
Roberto Soria of Curtin University in Australia, who led the new
study. The dramatic jump in X-ray brightness, according to the
researchers, likely occurred because of a sudden increase in the
amount of material falling into the black hole.

In 2011, Soria and his colleagues used optical images from the Gemini
Observatory and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to discover a bright
blue source at the position of the X-ray source. The object had not
been previously observed in a Magellan Telescope image taken in April
2009 or a Hubble image obtained in August 2009. The lack of a blue
source in the earlier images indicates the black hole's companion
star is fainter, redder and has a much lower mass than most of the
companions that previously have been directly linked to ULXs. The
bright, blue optical emission seen in 2011 must have been caused by a
dramatic accumulation of more material from the companion star.

"If the ULX only had been observed during its peak of X-ray emission
in 2010, the system easily could have been mistaken for a black hole
with a massive, much younger stellar companion, about 10 to 20
million years old," said co-author William Blair of Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore.

The companion to the black hole in M83 is likely a red giant star at
least 500 million years old, with a mass almost four times the sun's.
Theoretical models for the evolution of stars suggest the black hole
should be almost as old as its companion.

Another ULX containing a volatile, old black hole recently was
discovered in the Andromeda galaxy by Amanpreet Kaur, from Clemson
University, and colleagues and published in the February 2012 issue
of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Matthew Middleton and colleagues from
the University of Durham reported more information in the March 2012
issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. They
used data from Chandra, XMM-Newton and HST to show the ULX is highly
variable and its companion is an old, red star.

"With these two objects, it's becoming clear there are two classes of
ULX, one containing young, persistently growing black holes and the
other containing old black holes that grow erratically," said Kip
Kuntz, a co-author of the new M83 paper, also of Johns Hopkins
University. "We were very fortunate to observe the M83 object at just
the right time to make the before and after comparison."

A paper describing these results will appear in the May 10th issue of
The Astrophysical Journal.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the
Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science
and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

For Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:


For an additional interactive image, podcast, and video on the
finding, visit:



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