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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. 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.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. 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)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. 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))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. 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.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of the Crab Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG The Crab Nebula is one of the best-known images ever taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In X-ray light we can see a nebula of material that is powered by a rapidly rotating, highly magnetized neutron star at the center of the image. This particular Chandra image of the Crab shows how far the neutron star's influence is, creating these fingers and loops of radiation that extend far away from the neutron star. Looking at the Crab in other wavelengths, such as optical light from Hubble, seen here in green, and Spitzer's infrared view in red, we see a much different picture. The size of the X-ray image is smaller than the others because X-ray-emitting electrons radiate away their energy faster than the lower-energy electrons that emit optical and infrared light. Only by comparing these different wavelengths can we begin to see the total picture of the Crab Nebula.
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(NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Seward et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. The Evolution of a Globular Cluster
QuicktimeMPEG Shown here is a sequence of artist's impressions explaining the evolution of a globular cluster. The first graphic shows a globular cluster forming, where single stars are shown in red and double stars in blue. A globular cluster then passes through three main phases of evolution, corresponding to adolescence, middle age, and old age, as shown in the next three graphics. These "ages" refer to the evolutionary state of the cluster, not the physical ages of the individual stars. In the adolescent phase, the stars near the center of the cluster collapse inward (in more technical parlance this is called "core contraction"). Middle age ("binary burning") refers to a phase when the interactions of double stars near the center of the cluster prevents it from further collapse (the stars in green are those currently undergoing interactions). Finally, old age sets in after the last remaining double star near the center of the cluster is ejected, and the center of the cluster collapses inwards ("core collapse"). The final graphic shows a period of extended old age, when the central region of the cluster expands and contracts ("gravothermal oscillations) after new double stars are formed. New Chandra results suggest that most globular clusters are in adolescence and a few are in middle age. It was previously thought that most clusters are in middle age and a few are in old age.
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View Stills
(Northwestern/W.Finney)

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7. Tour of Crab Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG In 1054 A.D., a star's death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth. Now, almost a thousand years later, a superdense neutron star left behind by the explosion is spewing out a blizzard of extremely high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula. This image combines data from Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra telescopes. The size of the X-ray image is smaller than the others because ultrahigh-energy X-ray emitting electrons radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons emitting optical and infrared light. By studying the Crab Nebula, astronomers hope to unlock the secrets of how similar objects across the universe are powered.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/ASU/J.Hester et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/ASU/J.Hester & A.Loll; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Minn./R.Gehrz)

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8. Zoom into Chandra's Image of the Mouse
QuicktimeMPEG This sequence begins with a wide-field radio image of the Mouse, the shape of which gives the system its name. The view then moves closer to reveal a composite of both Chandra's X-ray data as well as radio data from the Very Large Array. Finally, the radio emission dissolves away, leaving Chandra's observations of the Mouse. The Chandra view starts with its broadband image, before switching to a 3-color X-ray image where red, green and blue represent increasing energy ranges.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/B.Gaensler et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF)

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Click for high-resolution animation
9. Zoom to 47 Tucanae
QuicktimeMPEG This animation zooms from ground-based optical views around the southern constellation of Tucana, to an ESO/Danish 1.54-m optical image of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, and finally rests on the X-ray image of the cluster's core taken with Chandra.
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(round-based Optical: T.Dickinson; Anglo-Australian Obs. Photo: D.Malin; ESO/Danish 1.54-m: W.Keel et al.; Chandra: NASA/CXC/CfA/J.Grindlay & C.Heinke)

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Click for high-resolution animation
10. Animation of White Dwarf Gravitational Wave Merger
QuicktimeMPEG This artist concept depicts two white dwarfs called RX J0806.3+1527 or J0806, swirling closer together, traveling in excess of a million miles per hour. As their orbit gets smaller and smaller, leading up to a merger, the system should release more and more energy in gravitational waves. This particular pair might have the smallest orbit of any known binary system. They complete an orbit in 321.5 seconds - barely more than five minutes.
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View Stills
(NASA/GSFC/D.Berry)

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