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VLBA, RXTE Team Up to Pinpoint Black Hole's Outburst

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Radio imaging by the Very Long Baseline Array (top row), combined with simultaneous X-ray observations by NASA's RXTE (middle), captured the transient ejection of massive gas "bullets" by the black hole binary H1743-322 during its 2009 outburst. By tracking the motion of these bullets with the VLBA, astronomers were able to link the ejection event to the disappearance of X-ray signals seen in RXTE data. These signals, called quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs), vanished two days earlier than the onset of the radio flare that astronomers previously had assumed signaled the ejection.
Credit: NRAO and NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) is a continent-wide radio-telscope system providing the highest resolution, or ability to see detail, of any telescope in astronomy. With 240-ton dish antennas ranging from Hawaii in the Pacific to St. Croix in the Caribbean, it spreads across more than 5,000 miles. Locations of the ten VLBA antennas are shown here, with red lines depicting the 45 "baselines" between the antennas. In operation, each baseline provides a unique piece of information about the image being formed by the array.
Credit: Jeff Hellerman, NRAO/AUI/NSF

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