45,000 Miles Per Hour Winds Spit Out by Odd Binary Systems

by Sankalan Baidya
Binary Systems

Odd Binary Systems spitting out winds at 45,000 miles per hour. That’s something astronomers and space researchers will find interesting. Cambridge University researchers looked into nearby galaxies and they found something weird. They spotted two Binary Systems that are extremely odd. They are derailing the previously understood notion of how such systems work.

The researchers believe that the Binary Systems they have spotted are the sources of ultra-luminous X-rays. What’s interesting is that these systems are consuming their companion stars are much faster rates compared to previously thought limits. Not only that, they are spitting out the remnants at super high speeds too!

When the universe is observed at X-ray wavelength, two prominent things can be seen. The first one is a supermassive black hole that sits at center of large galaxies and feeding on surrounding material. The second one is a binary system. A binary system that can consist of stellar remnant such as:

Astronomers, since the 1980s, have learned that there are intermediary systems that are pretty mysterious. These systems are about 100 times as bright as regular Binary Systems. However, they are not so bright that they can be called supermassive black holes. These intermediary systems are sources of ultra-luminous X-rays.

Using data collected by XMM-Newton Space Observatory of European Space Agency, researchers studied three sources of ultra-luminous X-rays. These sources are all located in galaxies that are only 22 million light years away from our Milky Way galaxy. In all these three observations, researchers found that gas flowed slowly towards the central compact object. Also, the outer portion of the gas disc around the central object emitted X-rays. This is pretty normal.

Behavior of the Odd Binary Systems

However, in the two odd Binary Systems that the researchers spotted, something weird was happening. The saw that the gas disc was streaming away from the central compact object. On top of that, the gas was actually absorbing X-rays and not emitting them. Even more interesting, the gas was streaming away at a speed of 70000 kilometers per second. That’s about quarter the speed of light in vacuum.

Even weirder, the objects exceeded what is known as the Eddington Limit. What is that? Arthur Eddington – an astronomer – came up with some calculations. He gave a limit to how much matter can be sucked in by a black hole or a neutron star or a star of given mass. This limit is known as Eddington Limit.

XMM-Newton Project Scientist, Norbert Schartel says that observing these odd systems, we can actually study the accretion process in details. By investigating these Binary Systems, we can learn two things:

  • Exactly to what extent the Eddington Limit can be exceeded.
  • Factors that trigger wind outflow at such great speed.

Currently Cambridge researchers are studying the data in details hoping that they will eventually uncover physical nature of these objects.


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