Galactic X-rays: Variable Sources in Hydromagnetic Waves

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Science  28 Jun 1968:
Vol. 160, Issue 3835, pp. 1447-1449
DOI: 10.1126/science.160.3835.1447


Galactic sources of x-rays fluctuating in intensity are explained as being small regions, of enhanced gas density and temperature, emitting thermal Coulomb bremsstrahlung of kiloelectron-volt energies. Hydromagnetic wave motions, of the magnetic fields in the galactic spiral arms, produce the enhanced regions by compressing the clouds of ionized gas to which they are tied by their high electrical conductivity. From the observed periods of fluctuation of a few months, together with the hydromagnetic velocity, it is estimated that the average size of sources does not exceed 1016 centimeters. By using the formula for Coulomb bremsstrahlung and requiring that the sources shall produce the observed x-ray fluxes, one finds a second estimate of size of sources in agreement at about 1016 centimeters. Such regions are too small to be observable radio sources with current radio telescopes.

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