Cygnus X-1
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Cygnus X-1

May 17, 2007

ESA's XMM-Newton has helped to find evidence for the existence of controversial Intermediate Mass Black Holes. Scientists used a new, recently proven method for determining the mass of black holes.

The elegant technique, first suggested by Titarchuk in 1998, shows that Cygnus X-1, part of a binary system, contains 8.7 solar masses, with a margin of error of only 0.8 solar masses. Cygnus X-1 was one of the first compelling black hole candidates to emerge in the early 1970s. The system consists of a blue supergiant and a massive but invisible companion.

This artist's impression depicts a binary system akin to Cygnus X-1. It consists of a blue supergiant star (right) and a black hole.

The black hole is surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk that is fed by the star. Some black holes emit jets along the polar axis, as shown here.

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