ARlogo Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 1999. 37: 409-443
Copyright © 1999 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved

Reprinted with kind permission from Annual Reviews, 4139 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, California, USA

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I. F. Mirabel

Centre d'Etudes de Saclay, CEA/DSM/DAPNIA/Sap, Gif-sur-Yvette, F-91191 France,
Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio C.C. 67, Suc. 28. 1428, Buenos Aires, Argentina;

L. F. Rodríguez

Instituto de Astronomía, UNAM, Apdo. 04510 México, México; D.F., Postal 70-264,

Abstract. Black holes of stellar mass and neutron stars in binary systems are first detected as hard X-ray sources using high-energy space telescopes. Relativistic jets in some of these compact sources are found by means of multiwavelength observations with ground-based telescopes. The X-ray emission probes the inner accretion disk and immediate surroundings of the compact object, whereas the synchrotron emission from the jets is observed in the radio and infrared bands, and in the future could be detected at even shorter wavelengths. Black-hole X-ray binaries with relativistic jets mimic, on a much smaller scale, many of the phenomena seen in quasars and are thus called microquasars. Because of their proximity, their study opens the way for a better understanding of the relativistic jets seen elsewhere in the Universe. From the observation of two-sided moving jets it is inferred that the ejecta in microquasars move with relativistic speeds similar to those believed to be present in quasars. The simultaneous multiwavelength approach to microquasars reveals in short timescales the close connection between instabilities in the accretion disk seen in the X-rays, and the ejection of relativistic clouds of plasma observed as synchrotron emission at longer wavelengths. Besides contributing to a deeper understanding of accretion disks and jets, microquasars may serve in the future to determine the distances of jet sources using constraints from special relativity, and the spin of black holes using general relativity.

Key Words: radio continuum stars, superluminal motion, X-rays binaries

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