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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. Colliding Binary Neutron Stars
QuicktimeMPEG Gamma-ray bursts are common, yet random, and fleeting events that have mystified astronomers since their discovery in the late 1960s. Many scientists say longer bursts (more than four seconds in duration) are caused by massive star explosions; shorter bursts (less than two seconds in duration) are caused by mergers of binary systems with black holes or neutron stars. This animation portrays one possible scenario that could produce the shorter bursts. While uncertainty remains, most scientists say in either scenario a new black hole is born.
[Runtime: 0:23]
(NASA/D.Berry)

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Click for high-resolution animation
2. Dissolve from Optical to X-ray Image of Westerlund 1
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence begins with an optical view of the star cluster, known as Westerlund 1. When the view dissolves into Chandra's X-ray image, the unusual neutron star -- a dense whirling ball of neutrons about 12 miles in diameter -- appears very brightly.
[Runtime: 0:08]
(Optical: ESO/WFI/2.2-m MPG; X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCLA/M.Muno et al.)

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3. Time-lapse Movie of Galactic Center X-ray Binaries
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence of 5 images is part of an ongoing Chandra program that monitors a region around the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, Sgr A*. Four bright, variable X-ray sources were discovered within 3 light years of Sgr A*. The variability is indicative of an X-ray binary system where a black hole or neutron star is pulling matter from a nearby companion star. Such a high concentration of X-ray binaries in this region is strong circumstantial evidence that a dense swarm of 10,000 or more stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars has formed around Sgr A*. The swarm likely formed as stellar-mass black holes, and to a lesser extent, neutron stars, gradually sank toward the center of the Galaxy over the course of several billion years.
[Runtime: 1:02]
(NASA/CXC/UCLA/M.Muno et al.)

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4. Sequence Showing Evidence of Black Hole Swarm in Context
QuicktimeMPEG The first image in this sequence is Chandra's 900- by 400-light year mosaic of the Milky Way's center. Next, the view zooms into a smaller region where Chandra has found some 2,000 individual X-ray sources. Finally, Chandra's view of the area immediately surrounding Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, is shown. As part of a long-term monitoring program, Chandra found several variable X-ray sources. This variability suggests these sources are in systems containing their own stellar-sized black holes.
[Runtime: 1:02]
(Galactic Center Mosaic: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al.; Sagittarius A*: NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K.Baganoff et al.; Galactic Center X-ray Binaries: NASA/CXC/UCLA/M.Muno et al.)

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5. Black Hole Devours a Neutron Star
QuicktimeMPEG
*Broadcast Quality

Scientists say they have seen tantalizing, first-time evidence of a black hole eating a neutron star-first stretching the neutron star into a crescent, swallowing it, and then gulping up crumbs of the broken star in the minutes and hours that followed.
[Runtime: 0:28]
(NASA/D.Berry)

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6. Comparison of 3C58 and the Crab Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG
*Broadcast Quality

In this series of X-ray images, the strong similarities between the center of 3C58 and the Crab Nebula pulsar -- one of the most famous objects in astronomy -- are shown. The 3C58 pulsar, the Crab Nebula pulsar, and a growing list of other pulsars offer dramatic proof that strong electromagnetic fields around rapidly rotating neutron stars are powerful generators of both high-energy particles and magnetic fields.
[Runtime: 0:22]
(3C58: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane et al.; Crab: NASA/CXC/ASU/J.Hester et al.)

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7. 3C58: Layers of Chandra's 3-Color Image
QuicktimeMPEG
*Broadcast Quality

n this sequence, the individual layers that comprise the Chandra 3-color image of 3C58 are shown. The red layer represents the lower-energy X-rays, green shows the medium-energy range, and blue reveals the highest-energy X-rays observed by Chandra.
[Runtime: 0:20]
(NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane et al.)

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8. Multi-wavelength Look at 3C58
QuicktimeMPEG
*Broadcast Quality

This sequence compares Chandra's X-ray image of 3C58 with the views seen by optical and radio telescopes. The intricate X-ray loops in the Chandra image and the features in the radio images of 3C58 extend a dozen light years from the pulsar, likely representing the complex magnetic field structure there.
[Runtime: 0:32]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane et al.; Optical: DSS; Radio: NCSU/S.Reynolds)

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9. Vela Pulsar Animation
QuicktimeMPEG Chandra's image of the Vela Pulsar shows a dramatic bow-like structure at the leading edge of the cloud, or nebula, embedded in the Vela supernova remnant. As indicated by the arrow, the jets point in the same direction as the motion of the pulsar. The swept-back appearance of the nebula is due to the motion of the pulsar through the supernova remnant. The last few frames of this animation show the region of space around the rapidly rotating neutron stars in the Crab Nebula (left) compared with Vela (right). The inner Crab ring is 1 light year in diameter; in Vela it is 0.1 light year.
[Runtime: 0:16]
(Animation: NASA/CXC/A.Hobart; Images: NASA/SAO/CXC)

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10. Chandra X-ray Movie of Vela Pulsar Jet
QuicktimeMPEG his sequence starts with Chandra's wide-field of the region around the Vela Pulsar Jet. The view then zooms into the area covered by Chandra during a series of 13 observations taken over about two and a half years. This movie led astronomers to discover an outer jet shooting out ahead of the moving pulsar. The most striking feature of the jet is its variability, changing both its shape and brightness. Meanwhile, bright blobs are seen moving along the jet with surprising velocities -- at about half of the speed of light.
[Runtime: 1:16]
(Animation: NASA/CXC/Penn State/G.Pavlov et al.)

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