New record set for cosmic X-ray sightings

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Center used the University`s `ALICE` supercomputer to help them produce a new X-ray catalogue, dubbed "3XMM."

Updated: Jul 24, 2013, 20:00 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have set a new record for cosmic X-ray sources ever sighted-creating an unprecedented cosmic X-ray catalogue that will provide a valuable resource allowing astronomers to explore the extreme universe.

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Center, led by a team from the University of Leicester`s Department of Physics and Astronomy, used the University`s `ALICE` supercomputer to help them produce a new X-ray catalogue, dubbed "3XMM."

This new catalogue contains over half a million X-ray source detections, representing a 50 percent increase over previous catalogues, and is the largest catalogue of X-ray sources ever produced.

This vast inventory is also home to some of the rarest and most extreme phenomena in the universe, such as tidal disruption events-when a black hole swallows another star, producing prodigious outbursts of X-ray emission .

"The catalogue contains more than half a million sources, all of which are provided to a better quality than ever before," Professor Mike Watson of the University of Leicester, who leads the XMM-Newton Survey Science Center, said.

"Using the University`s 2.2-million-pound High Performance Computer meant we could process the data up to a hundred times faster than before. This was key for testing and implementing advanced new processing strategies.

"The catalogue provides enormous scope for new discoveries as well as in-depth studies of large samples. XMM-Newton is pre-eminent amongst current X-ray missions in its ability to perform `survey` science, with a chance to find previously undetected objects and then explore their properties," he said.

The catalogue provides an exceptional dataset for generating large, well-defined samples of objects such as active galactic nuclei, clusters of galaxies, interacting compact binaries, and active stellar coronae.