A tiny neutron star orbits incessantly around a massive star with a diameter a million times larger than its own. The high luminosity of the massive star drives a strong wind from its surface. The neutron star crashes through this wind at over 300 kilometers per second. The gravity and X-ray luminosity of the neutron star act to disrupt the wind, producing an extended wake of dense gas trailing behind the neutron star. This simulation, in the reference frame of the neutron star, shows conditions of low X-ray luminosity. in which there is a large accretion radius, significant asymmetry, and long timescales for variability. The numerical simulations depicted here were computed using the Cray X-MP 48 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Note: A simulation of the wake of a moderate luminosity neutron star in orbit around a massive star. Animator: John Blondin (NASA/GSFC). Scientist: Ian Stevens (NASA/GSFC), Tim Kallman (NASA/GSFC), Bruce Fryxell (University of Arizona), Ron Taam (Northwestern University), John Blondin (NASA/GSFC).
Blondin, J. M., Kallman, T. R. , Fryxell, B. A., Taam, R. E., Hydrodynamic Simulations of Stellar Wind Disruption by a Compact X-ray Source, ApJ, 356, 591-608, 1990