Every two years or so, NASA's Astrophysics Division (part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate) conducts what is called its Senior Review. During this process, an outside panel of experts looks at a variety of things about operating missions in astrophysics that are in their "extended phase." This includes Chandra.
Most of us appreciate a bit of a break in our day. Even a brief moment away can help us stay focused on the usual tasks of work, home life, or whatever occupies our time.
Sometimes, astronomy can supply that step away from the every day. It can provide an opportunity to consider big picture questions about our place in the Universe, think about exotic and fascinating phenomena, or even just relax and enjoy beautiful imagery.
We can only imagine how much more important it is to have that chance for a momentary escape if you have a dangerous and important job such as being a soldier.
A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process. Using very long observations of Cassiopeia A (or Cas A), a team of scientists has mapped the distribution of elements in the supernova remnant in unprecedented detail. This information shows where the different layers of the pre-supernova star are located three hundred years after the explosion, and provides insight into the nature of the supernova.
April Jubett creates animations and videos to help explain Chandra’s discoveries in a visual way. Her work shows up most frequently as podcasts and short animations on the Chandra website.
I have always been interested in art and science, and the many connections between them. It started unconsciously, with a curiosity about the natural world around me and a fondness for drawing and trying to capture that world while learning more about it. When I found out that there are whole careers built on exploring the beauty and mystery of the universe, I thought, "Yeah, I can do that".
Since we've had a couple of stories on dark matter recently, we wanted to feature some Q and A's we've received on the topic over the years.
Q: Is it possible for the existence of an 'anti-dark matter?' It was long predicted for the existence of anti-matter in theory so it seems plausible to me.
All this week, Venus and Jupiter have appeared very close to each other in the night sky. Most people in the Northern Hemisphere have been able to spot the planetary duo in the western skies about four hours after sunset.
This close pairing is a nice treat for skywatchers on Earth, but it really is an optical illusion of sorts. The planets are, of course, nowhere near each other. Venus is about 75 million miles away in one direction and Jupiter is over 500 million miles away in the other. Venus and Jupiter simply appear to come close to another from our vantage point on Earth as they travel in their usual orbits around the Sun.
Two teams of astronomers have used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes to map the distribution of dark matter in a galaxy cluster known as Abell 383, which is located about 2.3 billion light years from Earth. Not only were the researchers able to find where the dark matter lies in the two dimensions across the sky, they were also able to determine how the dark matter is distributed along the line of sight.
Today we have a guest blogger, Uroš Kostić, who is currently a researcher at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. Here, he describes theoretical work on the destruction of asteroids by supermassive black holes, involving a collaboration between University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Astronomical Observatory in Padova, Italy, from 2005 - 2008. During the project, Uroš was preparing his PhD at University of Ljubljana under the supervision of Professor Andrej Čadež.
These results by Uroš were referenced by Kastytis Zubovas in the paper that we publicized last month (http://chandra.si.edu/photo/2012/sgra/). We were unable to mention the work by Uroš and his team in the release, but we felt that the originality of their work, published before the Zubovas et al. study, warranted a blog posting. Academic research invariably builds on the work done by others and to paraphrase Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
On Friday March 2, 2012, we noticed Sunspot Group 1429 moving onto the Earth facing part of the Sun. The NOAA space weather service informed us that the magnetic topology was complex and this was a cell to watch out for. Sure enough, on Sunday night (March 4, Eastern time) the Sun emitted a short X1 flare. We all felt a bit better, because this often will relax the magnetic field. And since it was well off on the Eastern limb of the Sun, any coronal mass ejection (CME) should have missed us.
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