In work published in The Astrophysical Journal, the Monash and Warwick scientists significantly improved the precision with which they could measure the orbit of Scorpius X-1
, a double star system containing a neutron star that feeds off a nearby companion star.
The new source, Scorpius X-1
, was later found to be a 12th-magnitude binary with a neutron star, the first X-ray emitter detected outside our solar system.
Because Scorpius X-1 lies close to the plane in which Earth orbits the sun, millisecond dips in its brightness could be caused by tiny objects at the edge of the solar system passing between it and Earth.
Using data recorded by NASNs Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer over 7 years, the Taiwanese researchers identified 58 short-lived dips in the light from Scorpius X-1. Those dips probably represent 58 previously unknown bodies in the outer solar system, the researchers say in the Aug.
In 90 hours of archival data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, the bright X-ray source Scorpius X-1
exhibited 58 random dips in brightness lasting just a few milliseconds.
They studied nearly 90 hours of archival observations of Scorpius X-1 taken over seven years with NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE).
Several astrophysicists who study X-ray sources caution that some of Scorpius X-1's brightness drops could be due to variations in its energy output or occulting objects near that system.
That may be the source of Scorpius X-1
, according to I.