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The Soft X-ray Transient XTE J1550-56

pgroot.gifThe image shown above was obtained by Paul Groot with the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Magellan Instant Camera (MagIC) on the Baade telescope in June 2001. The FWHM of the stellar images is 0.30 arcsec. The object in the middle of the image is XTE J1550-56. It is a Soft X-ray Transient, a binary consisting of a black hole and a low-mass star. Currently the system is in quiescence, and the light we receive comes mainly from the low-mass secondary star. Because this star is deformed by the gravity of the black hole its brightness is variable and depends on the orbital phase. From these ellipsoidal variations in different bands Groot will be able to determine the inclination of the system, which together with VLT spectroscopy will yield the mass of the black hole. The purpose of the observations was to determine the light curve of the binary in the r', i' and z' bands.

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