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The Question

(Submitted October 02, 2004)

Is it at all possible for a companion star to survive a supernova explosion? Do any of the binary systems that we know of, where one of the bodies is a neutron star or black hole, have the original companion star present, especially where the compact object is near enough to draw surface gas off the visible star? Or have all these systems simply come into existence after the explosion and the nebula have dissapeared?

The Answer

Absolutely. All X-ray binaries have either neutron star or black hole components. By definition these stars must have experiences a supernova stage. Either their companions survived the supernova event or were captured tidally some time later. Certainly these companion stars did not form close to the compact object after the supernova. Energy from the compact source would prevent any cold gas from contracting in the vicinity.

with regards,
Martin Still & Jay Cummings for "Ask an Astrophysicist"

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