News Release Archive:

News Release 1041 of 1051

October 4, 1990 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1990-15

R Aquarii - A Nearby Exploding Star


Image: Symbiotic Star R Aquarii

Symbiotic Star R AquariiSTScI-PRC1990-28 Artist's Concept

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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.

Object Name: R Aquarii

Image Type: Artwork

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


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