Chandra image of Cygnus X-3
Credit: W. A. Heindl, J. A. Tomsick, R. Wijnands, and D. M. Smith, The Astrophysical Journal, 2003 April 11

Dust in the Wind?

A strong X-ray source in the constellation of Cygnus, Cyg X-3 is one of the rare objects known as "microquasars", galactic objects which behave like the giant nuclei of distant active galaxies. It is also the only known X-ray binary which contains a special type of evolved massive star, called a Wolf-Rayet star, as the stellar component. The other object is probably a neutron star, or perhaps a black hole. The image above shows a false-color X-ray image of Cyg X-3 obtained by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The bright diagonal strip running from lower left to upper right is a detector artifact. Chandra shows a strange excess in the outer emission, which can be seen as a "blue glow" on the left side of the image between lines 1 and 2. The origin of this X-ray excess is unknown, but may be related to dust in the stellar wind from the companion star, or perhaps material from a previous jet emitted from the compact object.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified April 14, 2003