Imagine the Universe!

X-ray Binaries

This short film shows matter being transferred from the normal star in a stellar binary system to the degenerate star.

The brightest X-ray sources in our Galaxy are X-ray binaries. These X-ray binaries are two stars which rotate around each other. One of the two is a normal star; but the other is a collapsed star, such as a neutron star or a black hole, which has about the same mass as our Sun but has shrunk to ten kilometers or less in radius. Material is drawn from the normal star and spirals in via an accretion disk onto the compact star. Intense X-ray emission is released from the inner region of the accretion disk where it falls onto the collapsed star.

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.

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

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