Low-Mass X-Ray Binary
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Basic Information

A Low-Mass X-Ray Binary (sometimes called a LMXB) is a star system composed of two stars, one of which is a compact dead star such as a black hole or neutron star, and the other is a more normal star. The high-mass compact star sucks matter off of it's nearby companion. As it consumes the nearby star's mass, they emit X-ray radiation. To normal vision, the stars may appear very faint, but in the X-ray portion of the spectrum they will appear to be amongst the brightest stars in the cosmos.

Those X-rays may provide a significant health hazard to those traveling by spacecraft to the system.

Recent research suggests that LMXB's may also create and release antimatter. It would probably be released in the form of positrons, moving so fast they might manage to travel thousands of light years before slowing enough to explosively react with normal matter. However, there are regions of the galaxy where antimatter has collected in clouds, and these regions are probably fed by LMXBs. Such clouds would be extremely dangerous to starships.



Game and Story Use

  • A low-mass X-ray binary, and the X-rays or antimatter it ejects, could be a dangerous navigational hazard for space travelers. The radiation might kill the crew, and the antimatter might blow the ship up.
  • A space hulk is found drifting in space. It's records show a course near a LMXB, so it's assumed that the crew died from X-ray exposure. Once the PCs have beamed over and hacked the ship's logs, they discover that the crew had driven past the LMXB on purpose, hoping the X-rays would kill the alien infestation in their hold.
  • Alien life evolving in or near such a star system would have to be very resistant to radiation, especially x-ray wavelengths. It's vision may extend to that part of the spectrum. It might also be transparent to visible light, or nearly so, as there'd be little biological impetus to evolve anything in the wavelengths of light we humans see.
  • Antimatter is a powerful fuel and energy source, but very costly to produce. Some sort of collection or mining operation might be set up near an LMXB system. Or, ships with some sort of magnetic antimatter scoop might just swing by the positron cloud to refuel.
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