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Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
Questions and Answers
Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
Chandra Images
Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
Animations & Video: Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries
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Click for high-resolution animation
1. A Tour of GRS 1915+105
QuicktimeMPEG GRS 1915+105, or GRS 1915 for short, is a special system. Not only does it contain a black hole some 14 times more massive than the Sun in orbit with a companion star, it also has a heartbeat. Or, more exactly, it gives off X-ray pulses that resemble the pattern of a human heart, though on a much slower scale. By monitoring this system with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, astronomers were able to pick out a spike of X-rays every 50 seconds or so. Researchers have determined that this heartbeat is due to the ebb and flow of material as it circles the black hole. This result gives scientists more insight into how black holes regulate their intake and control their growth.
[Runtime: 0.55]
(NASA/CXC/Harvard/J.Neilsen et al & A.Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. GRS 1915's "Heartbeat" X-ray Variation
QuicktimeMPEG The heartbeat variation of GRS 1915 is shown here in a repeated cycle to emphasize the similarity between the X-ray light curve and an electrocardiogram. The period has been sped up by a factor of 40.
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(NASA/CXC/Harvard/J.Neilsen et al)

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3. Simulation of GRS 1915's "Heartbeat"
QuicktimeMPEG This movie shows a simulation of the heartbeat variation of GRS 1915. It shows an X-ray point source varying with time, based on an average X-ray light curve of GRS 1915 obtained with RXTE. The period of the heartbeat variation has been sped up by a factor of 10 and four cycles of the variation are shown.
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(NASA/CXC/Harvard/J.Neilsen & A.Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of G327.1-1.1
QuicktimeMPEG G327.1-1.1 is the aftermath of a massive star that exploded as a supernova in the Milky Way galaxy. A highly magnetic, rapidly spinning neutron star called a pulsar was left behind after the explosion and is producing a wind of relativistic particles, seen in X-rays by Chandra and XMM-Newton as well as in radio data. This structure is called a pulsar wind nebula. No clear explanation is yet known for the unusual shape of this supernova remnant. One possibility is that we are seeing the effects of a shock wave bouncing backwards off of the shell of material swept up by the blast wave. The X-ray observations allow scientists to estimate the energy released during the supernova explosion and the age of the remnant, as well as the amount of material being swept up as the blast wave from the explosion expands.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al. and ESA/XMM-Newton Radio: SIFA/MOST and CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA; Infrared: UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF/2MASS)

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Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of G54.1+0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope were combined to create this image of the dusty remains of a collapsed star. This object, known as G54.1+0.3, is a supernova remnant some 20,000 light years from Earth. The white object near the center of the image is a dense, rapidly-rotating neutron star called a pulsar that was left behind after the star collapsed. The pulsar generates a wind of high-energy particles, seen in the Chandra data, that expands into the surrounding environment, illuminating the material ejected in the supernova explosion. This infrared data shows a shell of dust and gas that's being dispersed back into space where it one day may become part of a new generation of stars and planets.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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Click for high-resolution animation
6. Animation of Jet and Wind around GRS 1915+105
QuicktimeMPEG This animation shows how radio jets may be suppressed in the micro- quasar GRS 1915. Material is being pulled from a red companion star into a black hole via a blue, rapidly rotating disk. The animation begins with a jet blowing material away from the black hole. Later, when the disk is heated by powerful radiation from close to the black hole, a wind is driven off the disk. As the wind strengthens, the jet apparently is shut down because the wind deprives the jet of material that would otherwise have fueled it.
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View Stills
(NASA/CXC/A.Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
7. Images of Cosmic Cannonball
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence begins with a wide-field CTIO optical image which then combines with an X-ray image from the ROSAT observatory of Puppis A, the debris field created when a massive star exploded at the end of its life. The next image from Chandra shows the close-up view of the small, dense object, known as a "neutron star", left behind after the explosion. Chandra observations from 1999 and 2005 clearly show that the neutron star has moved over a period of five years. Astronomers calculate this neutron star is traveling at about 3 million miles per hour and is destined to exit the Galaxy million of years from now.
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(Chandra: NASA/CXC/Middlebury College/F.Winkler et al.; ROSAT: NASA/GSFC/S.Snowden et al.; Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/Middlebury College/F.Winkler et al.)

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8. Tour of Crab Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG The Crab Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the night sky. First observed by Chinese astronomers in 1054 A.D., and possibly others, this supernova remnant and its neutron star have become favorite targets for amateur and professional astronomers alike. This version of the Crab Nebula combines data from three different telescopes. X-ray data from Chandra, in light blue, show the super-dense neutron star that is the core of the exploded star, which is shooting a blizzard of high-energy particles into the expanding debris field. This super-energetic outflow is striking the cooler gas and dust seen in optical data from Hubble as well as infrared light from Spitzer. The Crab Nebula contains incredibly intriguing science, and provides perhaps one of the most stunning images in all of astronomy.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Seward; Optical: NASA/ESA/ASU/J.Hester & A.Loll; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Minn./R.Gehrz)

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9. Tour of GRS 1915
QuicktimeMPEG We start with an optical and infrared image that shows the crowded area around the object known as GRS 1915+105, or GRS 1915 for short. Next is a close-up of the Chandra image of GRS 1915, which is located near the plane of the Milky Way. GRS 1915 is a so-called micro-quasar that contains a black hole about fourteen times the mass of the sun, which in turn is pulling material off a nearby companion star. With its high-energy transmission grating, Chandra has observed GRS 1915 eleven times since 1999. These studies reveal that a jet from the black hole in GRS 1915 may be periodically choked off when a hot wind is driven off the disk surrounding the black hole. Conversely, once the wind dies down, the jet can re-emerge. These results suggest that this type of black hole may have a mechanism for regulating the rate at which it grows.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/Harvard/J.Neilsen); Optical & IR (Palomar DSS2))

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10. Tour of PSR B1509-58
QuicktimeMPEG A small dense object is responsible for the remarkably complex and intriguing structures seen in this image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. At the center of this image is a very young and powerful pulsar, known as PSR B1509-58. Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars that are created when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse. This pulsar is spewing energy out into space and creates this beautiful X-ray nebula, including a structure that resembles a hand. Finger-like structures extend to the upper right, apparently transferring energy into knots of material in a neighboring cloud of gas and dust that is seen in other wavelengths. This makes these knots glow brightly in X-rays, which is why they appear red and orange in this Chandra image. Astronomers think that this pulsar is about 1700 years old and lies about 17,000 light years from Earth.
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(NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.)

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