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Illustration of a Supergiant Fast X-ray Transient (SFXT) source

Illustration of a Supergiant Fast X-ray Transient (SFXT) source

Date: 21 June 2010
Satellite: INTEGRAL
Copyright: ESA

This artist's impression shows a high-mass binary system, composed of a supergiant luminous star (in blue) and a compact stellar object, such as a neutron star.

As discovered by ESA's INTEGRAL observatory, many of these supergiant systems produce strong and exceptionally fast-rising X-ray outbursts lasting a few hours only, hence their name 'supergiant fast X-ray transients'.

The outbursts may depend on the way stellar material is exchanged between the supergiant star and the compact object.

The light curve at the bottom-right was retrieved by INTEGRAL from the supergiant fast X-ray transient source IGR J17544-2619 on 17 September 2003.

The curve shows a very fast X-ray outburst from the compact object, lasting about two hours only, with very fast rise and slow decay. The counterpart of this source is a luminous supergiant, unambiguously identified by ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra X-ray observatories.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
24-Feb-2024 12:55 UT

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