X-ray binary star systems

X-ray binary star systems

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: X-ray binary star systems. Computer artwork of two extremes of X-ray binary star systems. These are systems where material is transferred from a star to an orbiting collapsed stellar core, such as a black hole or neutron star, forming an accretion disc. The high-mass system shown is a black hole candidate (Cygnus X-1) and the blue giant star HDE 226868 (30 solar masses). The low-mass system here is an orange K-type star (similar to the Sun) and the black hole A0620-00. The collapsed companion stars are so dense that the high rotation speeds in the accretion discs produce X-rays. The gravitational mid-point of each system is marked by the figure-of-eight loops (Roche lobes).

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