INTEGRAL Discovers New FXTs in the Galactic Plane

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Astronomers have discovered and identified two new X-ray transients (FXTs) in space. These FXTs both have short outburst and speedy rise times, and were found in the archival data of European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory spacecraft (INTEGRAL).

“It seems plausible that other such sources wait to be discovered,” said the researchers in an August 29 paper published on arXiv.org. “Further exploitations of the entire INTEGRAL data archive may yield additional discoveries of this kind of interesting X-ray transients.”

The INTEGRAL spacecraft has been using its X-ray detector to scan the sky since 2002. By using X-rays, gamma rays, and visible light, it can search space for virtually anything.

Hard X-rays, which uses higher energy of anything higher than five kiloelectronvolts (keV), can penetrate through all kinds of materials including industrial objects, metals, and the final frontier.

According to Phys.org, FTXs are extremely hard to identify because they are unpredictable and often have very brief activity. The research team working alongside INTEGRAL is led by Vito Sguera of the Institute of Space Astrophysics and CPB in Italy.

“We report on the analysis of archival INTEGRAL data pertaining to observations of specific regions of the galactic plane with the aim of finding new FTXs,” the team stated. “As a result, we report on the discovery of two new such sources which have not been previously detected by any other X-ray telescope.”

The FXTs are named IGR J03346 and IGR J20344, respectively. Each contains hard X-ray activity above 20 keV and reach their peak activity after 15 to 30 minutes.

Despite the fact that many other FXTs are uneducated and hiding within the galaxy, it’ll be difficult to identify new FTXs as INTEGRAL only will continue its voyage until 2018. It’s unknown whether or not another tool has the technology to scan and discover new FXTs.

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