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Cygnus X-1 Animations
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Tour of Cygnus X-1
Quicktime MPEG
Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed, and eventually lost, a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1. Today, astronomers are confident the Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole. In fact, a team of scientists has combined data from radio, optical, and X-ray telescopes including Chandra to determine the black hole's spin, mass, and distance more precisely than ever before. With these key pieces of information, the history of the black hole has been reconstructed. This new information gives astronomers strong clues about how the black hole was born, how much it weighed, and how fast it was spinning. This is important because scientists still would like to know much more about the birth of black holes.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Zoom in to Cygnus X-1
Quicktime MPEG
Cygnus X-1 is located near large active regions of star formation in the Milky Way. Cygnus X-1 is a black hole about 15 times the mass of the Sun in orbit with a massive blue companion star. Astronomers used several telescopes including Chandra to study Cygnus X-1. The combined data have revealed the spin, mass, and distance of this black hole more precisely than ever before.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)


Return to Cygnus X-1 (November 17, 2011)