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No Big Black Hole for Two ULXs

The surprisingly bright objects known as ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are not all alike, new research shows. ULXs spew out X-rays at luminosities millions of times the Sun’s total luminosity, and roughly a trillion times the Sun’s luminosity in X-rays. When they were first discovered three decades ago, astronomers thought they might be the glow from gas-gobbling intermediate-mass black holes. These theoretical objects have masses of hundreds to thousands of Suns and would fill the no-man’s land between stellar-mass black holes and supermassive black holes. Subsequent research has failed to conclusively settle the question.

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