Neutron Stars Join The Black Hole Jet Set
This artist's illustration depicts the jet of relativistic particles blasting out of Circinus X-1, a system where a neutron star is in orbit with a star several times the mass of the Sun.
The neutron star, an extremely dense remnant of an exploded star consisting of tightly packed neutrons, is seen as the sphere at the center of the disk. The powerful gravity of the neutron star pulls material from the companion star (shown as the blue star in the background) into a so-called accretion disk surrounding it.
Through a process that is not fully understood, a jet of material moving at nearly the speed of light is generated. A high percentage of the energy available from material falling toward the neutron star is converted into powering this jet.
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Circinus Constellation about 31,000 light years from Earth
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/S.Heintz et al; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss