X-ray Binary Stars
X-ray Binaries (in yellow) near the Galactic Center
If your eyes could see X-rays rather than optical light, you would see a
very different and unusual sight when you looked up at the sky. You would
be overwhelmed by a few hundred very bright stars, mostly concentrated
towards the center of our Galaxy. Most of these stars would in fact be
X-ray binaries, where a black hole or neutron star is devouring material from
its companion star.
A basic quest of science is to test the laws of physics under all
conditions. Unexpected discoveries can lead to breakthroughs in our
understanding of the laws of nature. X-ray observations of neutron stars and
black holes provide a unique probe into how the Universe operates under
extreme physical conditions.