High-mass X-ray binaries are binary star systems consisting of a supermassive star in orbit around an evolved compact object like a black hole or neutron star. Supermassive stars exhibit strong stellar winds consisting of material from the stellar atmosphere being ejected into space. These winds are unstable with a tendency to fragment into pockets of denser and colder material, referred to as clumps, embedded in tenuous hot gas. In high mass X-ray binaries, these winds are partially focused towards the black hole. As the material falls onto the black hole, energy is released in the form of radiation that allows us to 'X-ray' the stellar wind and its structure. Understanding the wind morphology and how it is impacted by the presence of the compact object is crucial for the evolution both of isolated supermassive stars and of these binary systems. In this talk, I will focus on the black-hole binary Cygnus X-1 and how we used laboratory measurements with an electron-beam ion trap to further our understanding of the clumpy wind in this system.
Speaker: Natalie Hell, Lawrence Livermore National Labs
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