accretion disk


noun Astronomy.

the rapidly spinning disk of gas that forms around the more compact component of a close binary star system as mass is transferred to the compact companion from the primary star.

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Origin of accretion disk

First recorded in 1975–80
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Scientific definitions for accretion disk

accretion disk

A spinning disk of gas and dust surrounding a celestial object with an intense gravitational field, such as a star or a black hole. In binary star systems, the gravitational attraction of the denser star can pull matter from the other star into an accretion disk in its own orbit. The material in the accretion disk eventually spirals into the attracting star and adds to its mass. The gas in accretion disks that surround black holes becomes condensed and heated as it is sucked into the hole, emitting x-rays and other radiation that provide evidence for the presence of the black hole.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.