This morning, the High Energy Astrophysics Division (aka HEAD) meeting kicks off in Newport, RI. What is this, you might ask? Well, the American Astronomical Society, or AAS, is the country’s largest professional group for astronomers. And because it is so large, they have also created several subdivisions so that scientists of a particular bent can gather to talk about their areas of interest. You can find a full list of the divisions here.
HEAD’s focus is what astronomers consider to be the higher energies of the electromagnetic spectrum – that is, generally anything more energetic than visible light. There’s the official mission statement on the
Evidence for a pair of supermassive black holes in a spiral galaxy has been found in data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This main image is a composite of X-rays from Chandra (blue) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (gold) of the spiral galaxy NGC 3393. Meanwhile, the inset box shows the central region of NGC 3993 as observed just by Chandra.
In this installment of our Meet An Astronomer video blog, we sit down with Joseph DePasquale. Joe is the Chandra science image processor who works hard to create the astronomy images that appear in press releases, on our web site, in print materials, and elsewhere. We think he has a pretty cool job, with a great combination of science and art.
Back by popular demand is our video blog series, Meet An Astronomer
Julia Lee is an associate professor in the astronomy department at Harvard. We caught up with Julia at a moment when she wasn't busy with her regular duties of running a research lab, teaching students, and everything else that a full-time position at a university like Harvard entails. Julia sat down with our "Meet an Astronomer" crew to explain how various choices she made led to her current career.
VV 340, also known as Arp 302, provides a textbook example of colliding galaxies seen in the early stages of their interaction. The edge-on galaxy near the top of the image is VV 340 North and the face-on galaxy at the bottom of the image is VV 340 South. Millions of years later these two spirals will merge - much like the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely do billions of years from now. Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) are shown here along with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue). VV 340 is located about 450 million light years from Earth.
Ever since we publicized the "deepest note in the Universe" in 2003, I have admired outreach efforts that combine music and astronomy. These efforts have continued this summer and fall with a program by Don Lubowich, from Hofstra University, who has organised astronomy exhibits to be installed at a large number of music festivals and events. My small role in this program involved displaying images from the "From Earth to the Universe (FETTU)" exhibit on the first day of the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July, added to Don's astronomy banners which also included material from FETTU.
This is a slightly abridged version of a note that was recently sent around to the Chandra team by Harvey Tananbaum (Director of the Chandra X-ray Center) and Roger Brissenden (CXC Manager and Deputy Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) to congratulate everyone on Chandra’s 12th birthday. With the end of the Space Shuttle program just last week, it was a fitting reminder just that a short dozen years ago, Columbia blasted off carrying Chandra safely into orbit.
The International Year of Astronomy continues to reach new audiences.
Photographs from the "From Earth to the Universe" (FETTU) gallery have been viewed by people all over the world in a variety of venues since 2009. A tactile version of the FETTU exhibit, based on the book Touch the Invisible Sky by Grice, Steel and Daou, was also created in 2009 so people could explore the multi-wavelength universe non-visually, by touch.
On July 20, 2011 the tactile FETTU exhibition continued on to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. The images were examined by students attending the National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam - an innovative STEM enrichment program for high school students who are blind or have low vision. Noreen Grice was a course instructor for the Youth Slam Space Track and was on-site at the exhibition. She verbally described the color images as students explored the tactile counterparts by touch. The tactile FETTU exhibition will now be on permanent display at the National Federation of the Blind and will hopefully continue to excite a new generation of science enthusiasts.
(Photos by N.Grice)
The galaxy NGC 3115 is shown here in a composite image of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). Using the Chandra image, the flow of hot gas toward the supermassive black hole in the center of this galaxy has been imaged. This is the first time that clear evidence for such a flow has been observed in any black hole.
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