Women in the High-Energy Universe: Aneta Siemiginowska

Oct
20

Aneta Siemiginowska is an astrophysicist at the Chandra X-ray Center. In addition to her responsibilities for Chandra’s Science Data System group, she is actively involved is exploring the Universe, particularly its black holes and galaxies.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to learn about stars. The winter sky displayed the entire Universe right in front of me and I wanted to learn and understand the sky and the space. I do not think I understood what it meant to become an astronomer when I was a six year old, but each time somebody asked me what do I want to be when I grew up I answered, "I want to be an astronomer".

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A Summer of Sleuthing Around Hot Data

Oct
17

October is American Archives Month—a time to celebrate the importance of archives across the country. In honor of Archives Month, we're participating in a pan-Smithsonian blogathon. Throughout October we, and other blogs from across the Smithsonian, will be blogging about Chandra's rich archive of astronomical data, issues, and behind-the-scenes projects. Check out the RSS feed of blogathon posts from across the Smithsonian.

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This past summer, I interned in the Chandra Education and Public Outreach department at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), where I spent several months sleuthing around the Chandra data archives as part of an on-going Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM) tagging project http://www.virtualastronomy.org/. AVM is data embedded into each image of astronomical objects that includes information such as the objects coordinates, the instrument and instrument settings used for capturing the image, and a description of the image. The goal of the project is to tag all the press release images from the Chandra X-ray telescope with metadata.

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A Middle-Aged Supernova Remnant

Oct
12

G299.2-2.9

G299.2-2.9 is an intriguing supernova remnant found about 16,000 light years away in the Milky Way galaxy . Evidence points to G299.2-2.9 being the remains of a Type Ia supernova, where a white dwarf has grown sufficiently massive to cause a thermonuclear explosion. Because it is older than most supernova remnants caused by these explosions, at an age of about 4500 years, G299.2-2.9 provides astronomers with an excellent opportunity to study how these objects evolve over time. It also provides a probe of the Type Ia supernova explosion that produced this structure.

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An Observatory at Your Fingertips

Oct
11

October is American Archives Month—a time to celebrate the importance of archives across the country. In honor of Archives Month, we're participating in a pan-Smithsonian blogathon. Throughout October we, and other blogs from across the Smithsonian, will be blogging about Chandra's rich archive of astronomical data, issues, and behind-the-scenes projects. Check out the RSS feed of blogathon posts from across the Smithsonian.

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Ni Hao ("Hello" in Chinese) from CAP 2011

Oct
10
CAP2011

This week, the latest incarnation of the Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP) series of meetings is happening in Beijing, China. There have been several of these meetings around the world – Munich in 2005, Athens in 2007, and Cape Town in 2010. Each of these, with a slightly different twist, have been designed to bring those of us who do astronomy outreach and communication together to discuss best practices, new ideas, emerging trends, etc.

This week, the focus will be to look at the ever-evolving landscape of modern communication and how astronomy can – and should – fit in. We are here talking about some of the latest work we’ve done in what we call “public science”. Like public art, public science strives to engage people in their everyday lives. Instead of having the general public stumble across a piece of artwork, we suggest that unintentionally interacting with science could be surprising, inspiring, and beneficial to any efforts to boost scientific interest and literacy.

And, most importantly, we are here to see old and new colleagues and to learn what else is going on around the world in astronomy communication. It’s great for CAP to be in Asia for the first time, and we are looking forward to an exciting week.

-Megan Watzke, Kim Arcand et al.

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Digging for Gold in Chandra's Archives

Oct
03

October is American Archives Month—a time to celebrate the importance of archives across the country. In honor of Archives Month, we're participating in a pan-Smithsonian blogathon. Throughout October we, and other blogs from across the Smithsonian, will be blogging about Chandra's rich archive of astronomical data, issues, and behind-the-scenes projects. Check out the RSS feed of blogathon posts from across the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian will also be celebrating Archives Month with other activities, including an Archives Fair , a Facebook Q&A with Smithsonian archivists/conservationists, and live-streamed lectures.

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Summer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA, is a perfect time for picking up projects that have been sitting on the back burner for a while. As activities slow down a bit, it's great to dig deeper into the Chandra data archive looking for a hidden gem; and when sifting through over 8 terabytes of data comprising more than 10,000 observations from one of NASA's "Great Observatories," you're bound to unearth more than a few.

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Living the High Life

Sep
28

NGC 281

High-mass stars are important because they are responsible for much of the energy pumped into our galaxy over its lifetime. Unfortunately, these stars are poorly understood because they are often found relatively far away and can be obscured by gas and dust. The star cluster NGC 281 is an exception to this rule. It is located about 9,200 light years from Earth and, remarkably, almost 1,000 light years above the plane of the Galaxy, giving astronomers a nearly unfettered view of the star formation within it.

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A very good year

Sep
27

The year 1905 was certainly a busy one for Albert Einstein. He had at least five papers published during that time. Not only would any scientist be proud to be so prolific, but Einstein was able to enjoy the fact these papers fundamentally changed the way we understood how the Universe worked.

Einstein
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How can we detect black holes?

Sep
19

Q: How can we detect black holes?

Black Hole

A: There are two basic ways we can detect whether there's a black hole. Black holes are, of course, dark by definition - not even light escapes them!

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Star Blasts Planet With X-rays

Sep
13

CoRoT-2A

This graphic contains an image and illustration of a nearby star, named CoRoT-2a, which has a planet in close orbit around it. The separation between the star and planet is only about 3 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, causing some exotic effects not seen in our solar system.

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