SS 433 X-ray Binary


SS433 is an object known as an X-ray binary. X-ray binaries are systems of a "normal" star in orbit around a very dense massive compact object, a black hole or neutron star. In these systems there is frequently matter transfer from the normal star onto the compact object. This interaction of matter with the intense gravitational field of the black hole or neutron star causes the matter to heat up and produce X-rays, hence the name X-ray binary. SS433 is special because it is one of the few in this class to also exhibit jets of material ejected at speeds close to the speed of light on opposite sides of the system. The image on the left is an image of SS433 made with the MERLIN and the VLA radio telescopes. The center of the image is the position of the neutron star-normal star system, which would be invisible on the scale of this image. The jets are seen curving away from the center. The images shown on the right are VLBA radio images of the very center of SS433 over 3 days. Unlike the lower resolution MERLIN+VLA image, the VLBA images clearly show material moving away from the center of the system.
The observing frequency of the VLBA images is 1.5 GHz and of the Merlin+VLA image is 5 GHz.


Legacy Astronomical Images


NRAO/AUI/NSF does not hold full copyright for this image. Contact the archivist for details.


Legacy Astronomical Image

Object Name

SS 433

Photo Credit

Amy J. Mioduszewski


Amy J. Mioduszewski, M.P. Rupen, K.M. Blundell


Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)
Very Large Array

Observation Date


Type of Observation


Center of Image

RA 19:11:49.600, Dec: 4:58:58.000 (J2000)

Field of View

0.000556 x 0.000278 degrees


Galactic Sources Series


Black Holes Unit


Legacy Astronomical Images, “SS 433 X-ray Binary,” NRAO Archives, accessed December 3, 2021,