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SS433

Russian Astronomer Revises SS433 Distance Measure

An old friend is in the news again. SS433, sometimes referred to as a microquasar in the supernova remnant W50, has been mentioned in this blog before. In a paper released today, available online here, Russian astronomer Panferov, re-examines the evidence for the proper distance to this unusual star system. Panferov concludes that “the distance to SS433 should be lowered to 4.3 kpc.” It had been reported recently that the distance to SS433 was as high as 5.5 kpc (almost 18,000 light years). Panferov uses data regarding the radio jets (themselves moving at about 20% the speed of light) from SS433 to conclude that the distance measure should be revised.

SS433 Still Something of an Enigma

In a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, available online now here, astronomers re-examine an old friend called SS433. As the authors put it “SS 433 has been studied for about 30 years since its discovery, the identification of the compact object, the most fundamental issue to understand this system, has remained unsolved.” With the help of the Subaru and Gemini satellites, these astronomers believe that they have better constrained the mass of SS433 to be between 1.9 and 4.9 solar masses. Nonetheless, these astronomers hedge their bets and still won’t state definitively that SS433 is indeed a black hole. And so the SS433 saga continues.

XMM-Newton Tells More of the SS433 Story

Once again I find a recent study of an old friend, SS433. In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Academy of Sciences, available online now here. Two Russian astronomers discuss the latest observations, these in X-ray using the European satellite XMM-Newton, regarding SS433. Read this MNRAS paper itself to discover yet more evidence that supports the hypothesis that SS433 is the result of a black hole and the surrounding material. Learn from the latest evidence the estimated shape and thickness of the surrounding region. Don’t forget to marvel at the energy radiated by SS433, as outlined in the first paragraph of the article.

Another Quest for SS433, this one in X-rays

I’ve mentioned SS433 on this blog before, and once again now. In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Academy of Sciences, astronomers have re-examined a star known as SS433. In this paper, astronomers utilize data accumulated from 2003 through 2008 from the observations made by the European Space Agency INTEGRAL (The International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) mission. The latest observations lead astronomers to the conclusion that SS433 is indeed a black hole in our galaxy, sometimes referred to as a microquasar. As I’ve said before, there is a superb book about SS433 written for a general audience by David H. Clark, called “The Quest for SS433,” which he called “the discovery of the astronomical phenomenon of the century.” We are still learning about it in this century. Learn the most recent information about SS433 from this pre-print online here.

Quest Lingers to Understand SS433

Years ago, in 1986, there was a popular book written by astronomer David Clark, called “Quest for SS433.” I recall that I was most interested in the book because my mentor in astronomy (Barry Geldzahler), was mentioned in the book. The star system designated as SS433 is a very unusual star system, a binary system with a neutron star or black hole as one of the stars, and an A-type star as its companion. SS433, estimated to be about 18,000 light years distant from us, is considered by some to be the first so-called microquasar discovered. The quest to comprehend the nature of SS433 continues today. In a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Academy of Sciences, online now at http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2463v1.pdf Russian astronomers attempt to duplicate the x-ray spectrum of SS433 using a model they developed. If you are inclined to learn more about SS433 and a search for gamma-rays associated with the star system, you may find an old article I co-authored online at http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1994ApJ…420..655G

August 2014
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