Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/M. Karovska et al.; Illustration: CXC/M.Weiss
Stars share things. In binary systems, when one star evolves, it can transfer mass to its companion if they are sufficiently close together. In the binary named Mira, a red giant star transfers mass to a white dwarf secondary, as shown in the illustration above right. Earlier X-ray observations of Mira suggested to astronomers that most of the X-ray emission is generated by the accretion disk around the white dwarf star as material in the transfer stream collides onto the disk at high speeds. But a new observation of X-ray emission from Mira made with the Chandra X-ray Telescope revealed a surprise. The high spatial resolution of Chandra shows that the red giant and even the mass transfer stream itself generates X-rays. These Chandra observations will help astronomers to understand the phenomena of mass transfer in these so-called "accreting systems".
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:27:17 EDT