SS 433 Radio / X-Ray Star


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. This images shows four radio images of radio/x-ray star SS 433 made with the VLA in January, February, March, and April 1981. By examining differences in these images, astronomers infer that there are twin jets of material moving outwards from the central star system at speeds of 180 million mph, one fourth the speed of light.
The VLA was in the A-configuration using about 25 antennas.


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



R.M. Hjellming, K.J. Johnston


Very Large Array (VLA)

Observation Date


Type of Observation


Center of Image

RA 19:11:50.000, Dec: 4:58:58.000 (J2000)

Field of View

0.003556 x 0.003556 degrees

Link to journal article


Contact the archivist for a high resolution tif of this image.


Galactic Sources Series


Black Holes Unit


Legacy Astronomical Images, “SS 433 Radio / X-Ray Star,” NRAO Archives, accessed December 3, 2021,