Symbiotic Star R Aquarii

Symbiotic Star R Aquarii

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Fast Facts
News release ID: STScI-1990-15
Release Date: Oct 4, 1990
Image Use: Copyright
About this image

This illustration depicts one possible explanation for R Aquarii's semi-periodic outbursts. The peculiar behavior of R Aquarii suggests that the red giant star in the R Aquarii system may spill some of its mass onto the companion – a common mechanism proposed for most nova-like outbursts. The mass transfer process may form an accretion disk: a swirling, flattened vortex of hot gasses that spiral down onto the hot companion. The disk may periodically erupt when the companion becomes overloaded with in-falling material. These explosions may happen only periodically when the white dwarf orbits close enough to pull in material from the star's outer layer.

Artwork, Multiple Star Systems, Novae, Stars


Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Berry (STScI)