Cygnus X-3


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Cygnus X-3

A luminous X-ray binary source with an unusually short (4.8 hour) binary period. The short period suggests that the system consists of a neutron star and a low-mass companion. Recent infrared spectra show strong helium emission lines as for a Wolf-Rayet companion star. The sinusoidal X-ray light curve is interpreted as being due to scattering of X-rays from the (unseen) central source by a hot dense wind driven off the companion star. Cygnus X-3 occasionally produces strong sometimes violent radio flares, first observed in 1972, between which it shows variable radio emission with a dominant component having a periodicity of 4.8 hours, similar to the X-ray period. Extremely high energy (>1015 eV) gamma rays have also been detected, though not recently. These observations make Cygnus X-3 a unique source. It is postulated that the unusual properties may arise from very rapid rotation of the neutron star embedded in the dense wind of its companion star.

Cygnus X-3

[′sig·nəs ‚eks ′thrē]
(astrophysics)
A variable source of x-rays, with a period of 4.8 hours, associated with a variable radio source that flared up to enormous levels in September 1972 with no observed increase in x-ray emission. Abbreviated Cyg X-3.
References in periodicals archive ?
Two teams have now made the first definitive detection of high-energy gamma rays from this system, a microquasar known as Cygnus X-3.
The microquasar is a binary system known as Cygnus X-3.
The Cygnus Mystery proposes that the cause of this sudden shift lay in a sudden spike in the cosmic rays reaching Earth, offering evidence that the rays, which have left behind subatomic traces in deep caves, emanated from the binary star system Cygnus X-3.
These include the field of the energetic black hole Cygnus X-1, clearly detected as a point source in each telescope, together with Cygnus X-3.
In October, Chandra examined Cygnus X-3, a neutron star orbiting a companion star every 4.
Astronomers call Cygnus X-3 one of the most bizarre objects in the heavens.
Indications that gamma rays also emerge from Cygnus X-3, an X-ray-emitting binary star system, appear less compelling.
In 1983, Manfred Samorski and Wilhelm Stamm of West Germany's University of Kiel reported similar signals coming from the pulsar Cygnus X-3.
A particularly likely class of candidates is the binary star X-ray sources in our galaxy, such as Cygnus X-3, Hercules X-1 and Vela X-1.
However, it makes a real appearance in the mechanism he suggests to explain the strange radiation coming from the X-ray pulsar Cygnus X-3.
Presumably these muons are produced in the detector by some highly energetic, extremely penetrating radiation that comes from certain sources in the sky-- Cygnus X-3 and Hercules X-1 are among those implicated--and can penetrate the earth's atmosphere and several thousand feet of rock to reach the detector.
Cygnus X-3 seems to undergo a strong outburst every autumn, and observers had awaited the 1986 outburst as an opportunity to settle the question.