Accreting Neutron Stars, Black Holes, and Degenerate Dwarf Stars

Science  08 Feb 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4431, pp. 597-606
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4431.597


During the past 8 years, extended temporal and broadband spectroscopic studies carried out by x-ray astronomical satellites have led to the identification of specific compact x-ray sources as accreting neutron stars, black holes, and degenerate dwarf stars in close binary systems. Such sources provide a unique opportunity to study matter under extreme conditions not accessible in the terrestrial laboratory. Quantitative theoretical models have been developed which demonstrate that detailed studies of these sources will lead to a greatly increased understanding of dense and superdense hadron matter, hadron superfluidity, high-temperature plasma in superstrong magnetic fields, and physical processes in strong gravitational fields. Through a combination of theory and observation such studies will make possible the determination of the mass, radius, magnetic field, and structure of neutron stars and degenerate dwarf stars and the identification of further candidate black holes, and will contribute appreciably to our understanding of the physics of accretion by compact astronomical objects.

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