For the first time an X-ray image of a pair of interacting stars has been made by NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The Chandra image shows Mira A (right), a highly evolved red giant star, and Mira B (left), a white dwarf.
The ability to distinguish between the interacting stars – one a highly evolved giant star and the other likely a white dwarf – allowed a team of scientists to observe an X-ray outburst from the giant star and find evidence that a bridge of hot matter is streaming between the two stars.
"Before this observation it was assumed that all the X-rays came from a hot disk surrounding a white dwarf, so the detection of an X-ray outburst from the giant star came as a surprise," said Margarita Karovska of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author article in the latest Astrophysical Journal Letters describing this work. An ultraviolet image made by the Hubble Space Telescope was a key to identifying the location of the X-ray outburst with the giant star.
Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
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