X-ray Binaries have been of interest in Astrophysics for various reasons and a seminar given by Professor Malcolm Coe of the Southampton Physics and Astronomy Department gave a description of a project investigating such systems. The Magellanic Clouds (Large and Small Magellanic Clouds) are two galaxies nearby to our own Milky Way and contain large numbers of Be – neutron star binaries which produce X-rays. These systems are not fully understood and are impossible to replicate in an experimental laboratory.
A very popular computational method, primarily developed for astrophysics but used in many fluid dynamics simulations, is Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (or SPH). Although it is a powerful tool, it requires huge amounts of computational power and does not include quite all the physics that might effects the dynamics of these binaries. These are two huge factors in the research going on using SPH. This code has been used already to produce some impressive simulations of X-ray Binaries which were shown by Professor Coe during the seminar and the hope is that we can “learn a lot more about the extreme physics taking place in these complex systems”.
Posted by Rory Brown