galaxy of stars. Instead, the graphic shows spiral shock waves in a three dimensional simulation of an accretion disk -- material swirling onto a compact central object that could represent a white dwarf star, neutron star, or black hole. Such accretion disks power bright x-ray sources within our own galaxy. They form in binary star systems which consist of a donor star (not shown above), supplying the accreting material, and a compact object whose strong gravity ultimately draws the material towards its surface. For known x-ray binary systems the size of the accretion disk itself might fall somewhere between the diameter of the Sun (about 1,400,000 kilometers) and the diameter of the Moon's orbit (800,000 kilometers). One interesting result of the virtual reality astrophysics illustrated here is that the simulated disk develops instabilities which tend to smear out the pronounced spiral shocks.
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Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day
Publications with keywords: accretion disk - binary star - neutron star - black hole
Publications with words: accretion disk - binary star - neutron star - black hole
- Unusual Signal Suggests Neutron Star Destroyed by Black Hole
- Animation: Spiral Disk around a Black Hole
- The Galaxy, the Jet and the Black Hole
- Simulation: Two Black Holes Merge
- First Horizon Scale Image of a Black Hole
- Spiraling Supermassive Black Holes
- The Lonely Neutron Star in Supernova E0102 72.3