MAGIC Telescope Finds Microquasar

Jun 06, 2006
MAGIC Telescope Finds Microquasar
The MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescope is located in the Canary Islands. (Winston Ko/UC Davis photo)

The variable emission of high-energy gamma rays from a variable microquasar within our galaxy has been detected by the MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescope located in the Canary Islands. The object is the first seen to fluctuate in the high-energy gamma spectrum, said Daniel Ferenc, professor of physics at UC Davis and a member of the MAGIC scientific team.

The microquasar LS I +61 303 probably consists of a normal star and an extremely dense object, either a black hole or a neutron star, Ferenc said. As the stars orbit each other every 26 days, matter is pulled from the regular star and spirals towards the other object. Jets of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light are blasted out as the material collapses in the gravitational field.

The MAGIC telescope measured gamma rays coming from the microquasar over about six months. New light detection technology allowed MAGIC to measure the microquasar's activity continuously during several 26-day orbits, despite the presence of moonlight. The brightest emissions occurred a few days after the point when the star and the black hole were closest together.

The results will help physicists understand how microquasars and quasars emit gamma rays, Ferenc said.

The MAGIC telescope, inaugurated in 2003 at La Palma in the Canary Islands, looks for objects that emit high-energy gamma rays from deep in the universe. It detects gamma rays by picking up the flashes of light given off as the rays hit the atmosphere.

The MAGIC team includes 130 scientists from nine countries. Ferenc's laboratory at UC Davis, including research fellows Daniel Kranich and Alvin Laille, has worked on camera design, mirror control and developing new types of photosensors for MAGIC and for a second telescope now under construction at the same site, as well as for the next generation of very large neutrino telescopes.

Eckart Lorenz, visiting professor at the Swiss Federal Institute for Research and a leader of the MAGIC project, also is an adjunct professor at UC Davis. The research was recently published online in Science Express.

Source: UC Davis

Explore further: Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First H.E.S.S. II data reveal promising pulsar signal

Jul 08, 2014

Following the intensive commissioning phase of the largest Cherenkov telescope worldwide (H.E.S.S. CT5), the H.E.S.S. collaboration has announced the detection of cosmic gamma rays of 30 gigaelectronvolts ...

The MAGIC-II Telescope is ready to team up

Apr 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Together with the MAGIC-I telescope, MAGIC-2 allows stereoscopic observations using these two largest gamma-ray telescopes. Astronomers can explore sources of very-high energy gamma rays. ...

Unexpected source of gamma rays discovered

Mar 06, 2009

An international team of astrophysicists, involving several research groups in Spain, has discovered a source of very high energy gamma rays in the region of the distant galaxies 3C 66A and 3C 66B. This new ...

How do you jumpstart a dead star?

Mar 14, 2014

It's a staple of science fiction, restarting our dying star with some kind of atomic superbomb. Why is our sun running out of fuel, and what can we actually do to get it restarted?

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

Aug 29, 2014

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

James_DeMeo
not rated yet Oct 12, 2007
The idea of space having unusual properties is not new to anyone who has read the materials typically censored out of the mainstream science publcations -- ie, the materials which flatly contradict Einstein's relativity and the "big bang" creationist theories. For example, the early ether-drift experiments of Dayton Miller, whom nearly nobody knows about, got very positive results, as did Michelson himself, along with about a half-dozen others, including into more recent years. But none of it is tolerated and the researchers are treated quite badly. See my paper "A Dynamic and Substantive Cosmological Ether" posted to the given weblink... www.orgonelab.org...ther.pdf The primary scientist who proposed such things in the 1950s was imprisoned with his books burned. Today much contempt and arrogant censorship typifies the orthodox reaction to such empirical findings, as with the "Axis of Horror" -- mainstream cosmology and astrophysics is literally "lost in space" without a clue. New findings like the one reported here continue to speak that space has substance, but the most simple explanations will require a whole generation of old professors to retire before they are given some open tolerance.