Orbiting Stars Flooding Space with Gravitational Waves

Chandra_293_1024

chandra_293 May 30th, 2005

Credit: Light curve: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T. Strohmayer; Illustration: GSFC/D. Berry

Chandra data (above, graph) on J0806 show that its X-rays vary with a period of 321.5 seconds, or slightly more than five minutes. This implies that the X-ray source is a binary star system where two white dwarf stars are orbiting each other (above, illustration) only 50,000 miles apart, making it one of the smallest known binary orbits in the Galaxy. According to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, such a system should produce gravitational waves - ripples in space-time - that carry energy away from the system and cause the stars to move closer together. X-ray and optical observations indicate that the orbital period of this system is decreasing by 1.2 milliseconds every year, which means that the stars are moving closer at a rate of 2 feet per year.

Image Source: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/j0806/

Curator: Chandra X-ray Observatory, Cambridge, MA, USA

Image Use Policy: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/image_use.html

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Image Details

Image Type
Collage
Object Name
RX J0806.3+1527
Subject - Milky Way
Star > Evolutionary Stage > White Dwarf
Star > Type > Exotic

Distance

Universescale1
1,600 light years

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 8h 6m 23.2s
DEC = 15° 27’ 30.2”
Constellation
Cancer
Chandra_293_1280
×
ID
293
Subject Category
B.3.1.7   B.3.2.6.1  
Subject Name
RX J0806.3+1527
Credits
Light curve: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T. Strohmayer; Illustration: GSFC/D. Berry
Release Date
2005-05-30
Lightyears
1,600
Redshift
1,600
Reference Url
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/j0806/
Type
Collage
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Instrument
Color Assignment
Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
121.596666666667, 15.4583888888889
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
Position
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Chandra X-ray Observatory
URL
http://chandra.harvard.edu
Name
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
Email
cxcpub@cfa.harvard.edu
Telephone
617.496.7941
Address
60 Garden St.
City
Cambridge
State/Province
MA
Postal Code
02138
Country
USA
Rights
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/image_use.html
Publisher
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
Publisher ID
chandra
Resource ID
j0806_2panel.tif
Metadata Date
2012-07-25T10:53:27-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
1,600 light years