Using X-ray Spectroscopy to Measure a Binary’s Relativistic Outflow
Dr. Herman Marshall
presentation 2:45-3:15pm, followed by 10 minute Q&A
The stellar binary SS 433 was once featured on Saturday Night Live as the “comin’ and a-goin’ star”. By means that are still somewhat mysterious, the system ejects blobs of plasma in opposite directions at a speed of about a quarter of the speed of light. The compact object that is responsible for providing the impetus for this plasma is probably a black hole about 10 times the mass of the Sun. I show what we’ve come to understand about the system and its jets such as how their directions trace out twin cones on the sky. X-ray spectroscopy, using the Chandra High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer that were built here at MIT, shows that the plasma temperature reaches at least 100 million degrees and can be used to measure the density and location of the outflows we call jets.