Neutron stars are one of the most extreme objects in the universe and the observation of one of them, called Swift J1858, at a time of eruption, allowed astronomers to know that strong warm winds are generated during this period.
The study, in which Spanish researchers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) participated and which is published by Nature, used a combination of telescopes, from the Hubbel to the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Organization of the Southern Observatory and the Great Canary Telescope (GTC).
The team discovered gusts of hot, warm and cold winds coming from it, giving insight into the behavior of some of the most extreme objects in the universe.
Low-mass X-ray binaries are systems that are made up of a compact object (a neutron star or a black hole) and a star similar in size to the Sun. The former feeds on the material it subtracts from the star companion, in a process known as accretion.
Most of the accretion occurs during violent eruptions in which systems increase in luminosity dramatically and some of the material spiraling toward the compact object is propelled into space by winds formed in the disk, or in the form of jets. of matter.
The most common signatures of material being ejected by astronomical objects are associated with “warm” gas. However, until now only winds of
The new research shows, however, the characteristic features of a warm wind being observed at the same time as a cooler wind.
Knowledge about the formation of winds and their effects on the evolution of these systems is scarce, so these results offer information that could help understand what physical conditions are necessary to generate winds in other astrophysical objects, highlights Teo Muñoz, IAC researcher.
Eruptions like this are rare and each one is unique, but they are often heavily obscured by interstellar dust,
In the case of Swift J1858, however, that dimming is small enough to allow it to be studied at multiple wavelengths, according to study lead author Noel Castro of the University of Southampton in the UK.
Neutron stars have a very strong gravitational attraction that allows them to gobble up gas from other stars, but they are “chaotic eaters” and much of the gas they attract is thrown into space at high speed, explains Nathalie Degenaar of the University of Amsterdam.
The new observations providekey insights into the eating patterns of these cosmic ‘cookie monsters’”he adds.
In addition to discovering the warm winds, the team was able to study the time evolution of the flow of gas that is ejected and found that the warm wind was not affected by the strong variations in brightness of the system, a behavior that had been predicted theoretically, but not confirmed so far.