New NASA video shows best-known black holes and their stellar victims

A new video by NASA compares the size and orbital periods of 22 confirmed X-ray binary systems containing confirmed black holes.

Published May 13, 2022 5:34 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jun 2 2022 6:36 AM CDT
1 minute & 20 seconds read time

NASA has created a new video showing 22 X-ray binary systems containing black holes.

An X-ray binary system hosts a normal star and a collapsed star, either a white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole. X-rays are produced from the system as the normal star has matter pulled off it by the gravity of the dense, collapsed star when they come close enough together.

NASA's new animation features 22 such systems throughout the Milky Way and its nearest neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Each contains a normal star and a confirmed black hole. However, the size of the black holes is illustrated according to their mass, and so they appear much larger than they would otherwise relative to their companion stars and the accretion disk made from matter pulled off them.

For comparison, all of the systems are shown on the same scale, with orbits sped up by roughly 22,000 times. All of the systems are presented as we see them from Earth. Star color ranges from blue and white to reddish, corresponding to between 5 times hotter and about half as hot as our Sun.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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