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Chandra observation of Mira and Illustration
Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/M. Karovska et al.; Illustration: CXC/M.Weiss


Mira Aqui

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