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Violent red flashes seen from black hole V404 Cygni

16 March 2016 Astronomy Now

In June 2015, V404 Cygni underwent dramatic brightening for about two weeks, as it devoured material that it had stripped off an orbiting companion star. Violent red flashes, lasting just fractions of a second, were observed during the flare-up — one of the brightest black hole outbursts in recent years.

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Black hole observatory launched from Japan

17 February 2016 Stephen Clark

Japan launched a pioneering observatory with X-ray vision Wednesday to peer into the mysterious, light-starved neighbourhoods around black holes and study the genesis of galaxies and other cosmic mega-structures billions of light-years from Earth.

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Accretion process same for growth of stars and black holes

19 October 2015 Astronomy Now

One of the most important but least understood processes in astronomy is accretion, where the mass of an object grows by gravitationally collecting material from nearby. Now an international team has discovered that that the process by which astronomical objects grow is fundamentally the same, regardless of the type, mass or size of the object.

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Researchers find a new way to weigh pulsars

5 October 2015 Astronomy Now

Until now, scientists have determined the mass of stars, planets and moons by studying their motion in relation to others nearby, using the gravitational pull between the two as the basis for their calculations. However, in the case of young pulsars, mathematicians at the University of Southampton have now found a new way to measure their mass — even if a star exists on its own in space.