Peter Jonker
Low-mass X-ray binaries
A low-mass X-ray binary is a binary star system: one of the stars has a mass that is less than the mass of our Sun. The other star is a black hole or neutron star. Both neutron stars and black holes are compact objects. In an X-ray binary material is pulled off the small star by the compact object. When that matter falls to the compact object energy is released. This process is called accretion. A lot of the released energy gets radiated away as X-rays. It is thus in X-rays that most of these systems are discovered. These low-mass X-ray binaries are ideal if you want to study the laws of physics. Often theories of physics have not been tested to the extreme. The laws of gravity for instance are well described by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Even though Einstein’s theory is well tested and has passed all tests in circumstances found or created on Earth and in the Solar system, it has so far not been tested close to a compact object. Via my research on these low-mass X-ray binaries I hope to be able to provide such tests.