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Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Ultraluminous X-ray bursts

Ultraluminous X-ray bursts are newly (2016) discovered, and as yet unexplained sources of X-rays which have been observed in nearby galaxies.

“The mysterious sources regularly emit X-rays, but have been observed spontaneously flaring up and becoming about 100 times brighter in X-rays in less than a minute before returning to their original X-ray levels after about an hour.”
Source: University of Alberta (archived)
“The rise times of all of the flares were less than one minute, and the flares then decayed over about an hour. When not flaring, the sources appear to be normal accreting neutron-star or black-hole X-ray binaries, but they are located in old stellar populations, unlike the magnetars, anomalous X-ray pulsars or soft γ repeaters that have repetitive flares of similar luminosities.”

A number of hypotheses for the source of the flares have been proposed - e.g. the flares could be caused by matter from companion stars falling onto black holes or neutron stars.

Further reading Nature, 538


Also see Fast radio burstsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigFast radio bursts

"“Lasting only a fraction of a second yet packing a phenomenal amount of energy, FRBs are brief radio flashes of unknown origin that appear to come from random directions on the sky. Though only a handful have been documented previously, astronomers …
and Gamma-ray burstsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGamma-ray bursts

Gamma-ray bursts (which were first discovered by satellites originally intended to scan for nuclear weapon detonations) probably have multiple sources. They range from bursts of ten milliseconds to several hours, and also have differing energy levels. …


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