Among the first targets netted by NuSTAR, a high-energy X-ray telescope launched in June, is this stunning spiral galaxy IC342, also known as Caldwell 5, located 7 million light-years away in the constellation Camelopardalis (the Giraffe.)
NuStar's data is pictured in magenta and superimposed on an optical image showing the galaxy's spiral arms, stars, dust and gas.
"Previous observations of the same galaxy taken in high-energy X-rays amounted to only 1 pixel, so we couldn't resolve these two light sources," NuSTAR lead scientist Fiona Harrison, with the California Institute of Technology, told reporters during a press conference webstreamed from the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif.
The two magenta spots are "astonishingly bright, ultra-luminous black holes that are feeding," Harrison said.
The objects appear about 10 times brighter than typical stellar-mass black holes, similar to those found throughout the Milky Way galaxy. But they aren't believed to be supermassive black holes because they are not located at their galaxy's center.