Press Release


Discovery of New X-ray Celestial Body in Centaurs
by Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI)

October 22, 2010 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN)

The MAXI Mission Team found a new X-ray celestial body by the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) installed on the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" on October 17 (Sun.) This is the second nova discovery by the MAXI following the finding of MAXI J1659-152 on September 25 (Sat.).
The nova emerged in Centaurs became brighter around October 17, but, as it was still dark, we took a few days to analyze observation data, then reported its location information to the world at around 8:00 p.m. on Oct. 20 (Wed., Japan Standard Time) through the Astronomer's Telegram (ATel No.2959.) Upon receiving this report, NASA's astronomical satellite "Swift" (*1) conducted an urgent "target-of-opportunity" observation from midnight October 21 (JST.) As a result, the nova was confirmed to be a unprecedented bright X-ray source. It is predicted to be highly possible that the nova is either a neutron star with a companion star of a massive star which exists extremely far away, over several ten thousands light-years, in the Galaxy, or a black hole.
With the discovery this time, the MAXI proved its capability of discovering a X-ray nova existing far away in the Galaxy. The MAXI team will continue its observations in cooperation with the Swift satellite to elucidate more details of this nova. It is named "MAXI J1409-619."

*1 Gamma-ray burst observation satellite launched on Nov. 20, 2004.

Images of areas of 10 degrees in radius around the nova MAXI J1409-619. A celestial body that was not observed on Oct. 12 shone bright on the 17th.
Right ascension 14 hr. 09 min. 2 sec., Declination -61 deg. 57 min.

The detailed X-ray image shot by the Swift satellite. An unknown bright new celestial body was seen in the brighter part (0.2 degrees in radius) observed by the MAXI.

The MAXI team itself is a Japanese team consisting of researchers from JAXA, RIKEN, and domestic universities, but we have very close ties with the Swift team, which is mainly composed of American, Britain and Italian researchers, for observations.
This discovery was mainly conducted by Assistant Professor Kazutaka Yamaoka of Aoyama Gakuin University (also a member of the MAXI team) and Dr. Jamie A. Kennea of Penn State University.