Imagine the Universe!

Movie (2.8 MB)


The most obscured celestial objects of our Galaxy: a neutron star orbiting around a supergiant star, inside a cocoon of dust created by the powerful wind of the supergiant star.

In the first case, a neutron star orbits around a supergiant along a roughly circular orbit. Since the cocoon of gas/dust totally blankets the whole system, the neutron star stays permanently inside the cocoon, so there is a persistent source of X-rays.

In the second case, the orbit is more eccentric and the neutron star crosses only periodically into the cocoon of gas/dust covering the supergiant. Therefore there is intermittent emission of X-rays during that time.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index