SS 433

Coordinates: Sky map 19h 11m 49.56s, +04° 58′ 57.6″
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SS 433

SS 433 at the centre of supernova remnant W50
Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, K. Golap, M. Goss; NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer (WISE)
Observation data
Epoch J2000.0      Equinox J2000.0 (ICRS)
Constellation Aquila
Right ascension 19h 11m 49.56s[1]
Declination +04° 58′ 57.8″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 13.0 - 17.3[2]
Spectral type A7Ib
Variable type Eclipsing binary[2]
Proper motion (μ) RA: −3.027[1] mas/yr
Dec.: −4.777[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)0.1182 ± 0.0233 mas[1]
Distance18,000±700 ly
(5,500±200[3][4] pc)
Period (P)13.082 d
Eccentricity (e)0.05 ± 0.01
Inclination (i)79°
Other designations
V1343 Aql, GAL 039.7-02.0, 2MASS J19114957+0458578, USNO 659, 1A 1909+04, 87GB 190920.8+045332, NEK 40.1-02.1, 3A 1909+048, GPS 1909+049, RGB J1911+049, BWE 1909+0453, GRS 039.60 -01.80, RX J1911.7+0459, 4C 04.66, 1H 1908+047, 1RXS J191149.7+045857, 2E 1909.3+0453, HBHA 204-02, AAVSO 1906+04, 2E 4204, INTEGRAL1 110, TXS 1909+048, 1ES 1909+04.8, INTREF 969, 4U 1908+05.
Database references

SS 433 is a microquasar or eclipsing X-ray binary system, consisting of a stellar-mass black hole accreting matter from an A-type companion star.[5][6] SS 433 is the first discovered microquasar.[7] It is at the centre of the supernova remnant W50.

SS 433's designation comes from the initials of two astronomers at Case Western Reserve University: Nicholas Sanduleak and Charles Bruce Stephenson. It was the 433rd entry in their 1977 catalog of stars with strong emission lines.[7] Its emission lines were studied by Mordehai Milgrom in 1979.[8]


SS 433, also known as V1343 Aquilae, located at 5.5 kpc in the galactic plane (l= 39.7° and b= -2.2°)


Artist's impression of SS 433

The compact central object is consuming the companion star which rapidly loses mass into an accretion disc formed around the central object. The accretion disc is subject to extreme heating as it spirals into the primary and this heating causes the accretion disc to give off intense X-rays and opposing jets of hot hydrogen along the axis of rotation, above and below the plane of the accretion disc. The material in the jets travels at 26% of the speed of light.[9] The companion star presumably had lower mass than the original primary object and was therefore longer lived. Estimates for its mass range from 3 to 30[10] solar masses. The primary and secondary orbit each other at a very close distance in stellar terms, with an orbital period of 13.082 days. Their orbit is very slightly eccentric, and its period is slowly increasing at a rate of about 1.0×10−7 seconds per second, or about 3 seconds per year.[5]

Observational data[edit]

A visual band light curve for SS 433, adapted from Watarai & Fukue (2010)[11]

The jets from the primary are emitted perpendicular to its accretion disk. The jets and disk precess around an axis inclined about 79° to a line between Earth and SS 433. The angle between the jets and the axis is around 20°, and the precessional period is around 162.5 days.[12] Precession means that the jets sometimes point more towards the Earth, and sometimes more away, producing both blue and red Doppler shifts in the observed visible spectrum.[9] Also, the precession means that the jets corkscrew through space in an expanding helical spray.[13] As they impact the surrounding W50 supernova remnant clouds, they distort it into an elongated shape.[14]

SS 433 - possible ULX ray source

Observations in 2004 by the Very Long Baseline Array for 42 consecutive days gave new data and understanding of the action of the jets. It appears that the jets are sometimes impacting material shortly after being created and thus brightening. The material the jets are impacting appears to be replaced some of the time, but not always, leading to variations in the brightening of the jets.[15][16]

The spectrum of SS 433 is affected not just by Doppler shifts but also by relativity: when the effects of the Doppler shift are subtracted, there is a residual redshift which corresponds to a velocity of about 12,000 kilometers per second. This does not represent an actual velocity of the system away from the Earth; rather, it is due to time dilation, which makes moving clocks appear to stationary observers to be ticking more slowly. In this case, the relativistically moving excited atoms in the jets appear to vibrate more slowly and their radiation thus appears red-shifted.[9]

In September 2018, A. U. Abeysekara et al. published in Nature details of investigations using the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray (HAWC) Observatory in Mexico. They reported teraelectronvolt γ-ray observations exceeding 25TeV of the SS 433/W50 system that spatially resolve the lobes, and consistent with a single population of electrons with energies extending to at least hundreds of teraelectronvolts in a magnetic field of about 16 microgauss.[17][18]

In popular culture[edit]

In SNL Season 4 (1979), Father Guido Sarducci mentions SS 433.[19]

In the Seven Wonders of The World documentary series, Arthur C. Clarke mentions SS 443 as one of his "seven wonders of the universe".[20]

In his novel House of Suns, Alastair Reynolds describes a fictional star in the Andromeda galaxy as "a close cousin" to SS433.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Vallenari, A.; et al. (Gaia collaboration) (2023). "Gaia Data Release 3. Summary of the content and survey properties". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 674: A1. arXiv:2208.00211. Bibcode:2023A&A...674A...1G. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202243940. S2CID 244398875. Gaia DR3 record for this source at VizieR.
  2. ^ a b Samus, N. N.; Durlevich, O. V.; et al. (2009). "VizieR Online Data Catalog: General Catalogue of Variable Stars (Samus+ 2007-2013)". VizieR On-line Data Catalog: B/GCVS. Originally Published in: 2009yCat....102025S. 1: B/gcvs. Bibcode:2009yCat....102025S.
  3. ^ Blundell, Katherine M.; Bowler, Michael G. (2004). "Symmetry in the Changing Jets of SS 433 and Its True Distance from Us". The Astrophysical Journal. 616 (2): L159–L162. arXiv:astro-ph/0410456. Bibcode:2004ApJ...616L.159B. doi:10.1086/426542. ISSN 0004-637X. S2CID 11213274.
  4. ^ Jeffrey, Robert (2016). The remarkable outflows from the galactic microquasar SS433. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. EThOS icon of an open green padlock
  5. ^ a b c Cherepashchuk, A. M.; Belinski, A. A.; Dodin, A. V.; Postnov, K. A. (2021). "Discovery of orbital eccentricity and evidence for orbital period increase of SS433". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters. 507 (1): L19–L23. arXiv:2107.09005. Bibcode:2021MNRAS.507L..19C. doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slab083.
  6. ^ Hillwig, T. C.; Gies, D. R.; Huang, W.; McSwain, M. V.; Stark, M. A.; Van Der Meer, A.; Kaper, L. (2004). "Identification of the Mass Donor Star's Spectrum in SS 433". The Astrophysical Journal. 615 (1): 422–431. arXiv:astro-ph/0403634. Bibcode:2004ApJ...615..422H. doi:10.1086/423927. S2CID 17930915.
  7. ^ a b SS 433, David Darling, entry in The Internet Encyclopedia of Science, accessed on line September 14, 2007.
  8. ^ Milgrom, Mordehai (October 1979). "Thomson scattered lines in the spectrum of SS 433 - A powerful tool for studying the system". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 78 (3): L17–L20. Bibcode:1979A&A....78L..17M.
  9. ^ a b c Margon, Bruce (1984). "Observations of SS 433". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 22 (1): 507–536. Bibcode:1984ARA&A..22..507M. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.22.090184.002451. ISSN 0066-4146.
  10. ^ Cherepashchuk, A. M.; Sunyaev, R. A.; Fabrika, S. N.; Postnov, K. A.; Molkov, S. V.; Barsukova, E. A.; Antokhina, E. A.; Irsmambetova, T. R.; Panchenko, I. E.; Seifina, E. V.; Shakura, N. I.; Timokhin, A. N.; Bikmaev, I. F.; Sakhibullin, N. A.; Aslan, Z.; Khamitov, I.; Pramsky, A. G.; Sholukhova, O.; Gnedin, Yu. N.; Arkharov, A. A.; Larionov, V. M. (2005). "INTEGRAL observations of SS433: Results of a coordinated campaign". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 437 (2): 561–573. arXiv:astro-ph/0503352. Bibcode:2005A&A...437..561C. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20041563. S2CID 119395465.
  11. ^ Watarai, Ken-ya; Fukue, Jun (25 April 2010). "Optical Light Curves of Luminous Eclipsing Black Hole X-Ray Binaries". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. 62 (2): 467–474. doi:10.1093/pasj/62.2.467.
  12. ^ Cherepashchuk, Anatol (2002). "Observational Manifestations of Precession of Accretion Disk in the SS 433 Binary System". Space Science Reviews. 102 (1): 23–35. Bibcode:2002SSRv..102...23C. doi:10.1023/a:1021356630889. S2CID 115604949.
  13. ^ Gigantic Cosmic Corkscrew Reveals New Details About Mysterious Microquasar, press release, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, October 26, 2004, accessed on line September 14, 2007.
  14. ^ Murata, Kenji; Shibazaki, Noriaki (1996). "Interaction of Jets with a Supernova Remnant in the SS 433/W50 System". Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. 48 (6): 819–825. Bibcode:1996PASJ...48..819M. doi:10.1093/pasj/48.6.819.
  15. ^ VLBA "Movie" Gives Scientists New Insights On Workings of Mysterious Microquasars, press release, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, January 5, 2004. Accessed online September 14, 2007.
  16. ^ Schillemat, K.; Mioduszewski, A.; Dhawan, V.; Rupen, M. (2004). "Exploring the Jet Proper Motions of SS433". American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts. 205: 104.01. Bibcode:2004AAS...20510401S.
  17. ^ Abeysekara, A. U.; Albert, A.; Alfaro, R.; Alvarez, C.; Álvarez, J. D.; Arceo, R.; Arteaga-Velázquez, J. C.; Avila Rojas, D.; Ayala Solares, H. A.; Belmont-Moreno, E.; Benzvi, S. Y.; Brisbois, C.; Caballero-Mora, K. S.; Capistrán, T.; Carramiñana, A.; Casanova, S.; Castillo, M.; Cotti, U.; Cotzomi, J.; Coutiño De León, S.; De León, C.; de la Fuente, E.; Díaz-Vélez, J. C.; Dichiara, S.; Dingus, B. L.; Duvernois, M. A.; Ellsworth, R. W.; Engel, K.; Espinoza, C.; et al. (2018). "Very-high-energy particle acceleration powered by the jets of the microquasar SS 433". Nature. 562 (7725): 82–85. arXiv:1810.01892. Bibcode:2018Natur.562...82A. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0565-5. PMID 30283106. S2CID 52918329.
  18. ^ Scientists discover new nursery for superpowered photons, Space Daily, 2018-10-04
  19. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Father Guido Sarducci on Weekend Update - SNL". YouTube.
  20. ^ ARTHUR C. CLARKE: Seven Wonders of the World, retrieved 2022-10-29
  21. ^ Reynolds, Alastair (2020-04-21). House of Suns. Orbit. ISBN 978-0-316-46261-7.

Further reading[edit]