Symbiotic star R Aquarii (artist's impression)

This illustration depicts one possible explanation for R Aquariiàs 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 staràs outer layer.


Dana Berry (STScI)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:4 October 1990, 05:00
Size:2685 x 2059 px

About the Object

Name:IRAS 23412-1533, R Aqr
Type:Milky Way : Star : Grouping : Binary
Milky Way : Star : Circumstellar Material : Disk : Accretion
Distance:650 light years

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