AstroSat unravels mysteries surrounding Black Hole X-ray Binary MAXI J1820+070

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) AstroSat’s full multi-wavelength capabilities have enabled an international team of scientists to unravel the mysteries surrounding the X-ray binary system MAXI J1820+070, hosting a black hole.

AstroSat is India’s first multi-wavelength space observatory which was launched in September 2015 and now a comprehensive study presents unique insights into the behaviour of this transient black hole X-ray binary during its 2018 outburst.

According to ISRO, MAXI J1820+070, positioned around 9800 light-years distant from Earth, is a transient black hole X-ray binary.

It was first detected during its outburst in 2018 using the MAXI instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Because of its proximity to Earth and its remarkable brightness upon discovery, emerging as the second brightest object in the X-ray sky, MAXI J1820+070 garnered significant attention within the astronomy community.

AstroSat, equipped with three X-ray payloads and a UV telescope, captured soft and hard X-ray emissions and far ultraviolet radiation, painting a detailed portrait of the near and distant regions surrounding the black hole in MAXI J1820+070.

Prof. Dipankar Bhattacharya, chairperson of the AstroSat Science Working Group and a co-author of this study, said “This is the first time the full capability of all the co-pointed instruments in AstroSat have been used in unison, supplemented by ground-based observations, and the results are fascinating. I am happy to be a part of this unique investigation of one of the most interesting Black Hole sources discovered in recent times”.

The space agency further said that the significance of this study extends beyond MAXI J1820+070, highlighting the pivotal role of AstroSat in advancing the understanding of transient black hole X-ray binaries.

“With its unique multi-wavelength capabilities, AstroSat opens doors to further exploration of diverse astrophysical phenomena, laying the groundwork for future endeavours in the field,” the space agency said.

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