The Sun -- Waking Up or Hitting the Snooze?

Sep
14

Well this is typical of how things work out. My last blog post I started back on July 23, Chandra's 11th birthday, and it was about how calm and, well boring, the Sun has been. It took me a couple days to finish it and then a few more for it to get posted. In between me writing the blog about the "quiet sun" and it being posted, there were a bunch of headlines like "Solar Tsunami", "Quiet No More" and then, "Solar Blast Just Misses." So what happened?
Sun SDO

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The Heart of a Rose

Sep
08
Rosette Nebula

This composite image shows the Rosette star formation region, located about 5,000 light years from Earth. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are colored red and outlined by a white line. The X-rays reveal hundreds of young stars in the central cluster and fainter clusters on either side. Optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the Kitt Peak National Observatory (purple, orange, green and blue) show large areas of gas and dust, including giant pillars that remain behind after intense radiation from massive stars has eroded the more diffuse gas.

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Women in the High-Energy Universe: Nancy Adams-Wolk

Sep
07

Nancy Adams-Wolk is an instrument operations scientist at the Chandra X-ray Center. Her job, among others, is to ensure that one of the telescope’s main instruments – the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) -- is healthy and performing up to its full capacity.

ACIS

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Cluster Collisions Switch on Radio Halos

Aug
30
Abell 1758

This is a composite image of the northern part of the galaxy cluster Abell 1758, located about 3.2 billion light years from Earth, showing the effects of a collision between two smaller galaxy clusters. Chandra X-ray data (blue) reveals hot gas in the cluster and data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India (pink) shows huge "halos" generated by ultra-relativistic particles and magnetic fields over vast scales. Optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey are colored gold.

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Women in the High-Energy Universe: Lisa Paton

Aug
27

Lisa Paton is the Information Technology (IT) Manager for the High-Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). This means she oversees the computer networks and systems that allow scientists and everyone who work on the Chandra X-ray Observatory and other projects to have the technical infrastructure and support that they need to do their jobs.


(Please read part 1 for an introduction to this series)

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A&A on the Go

Aug
24

We have posted a few times on the Chandra blog about a project known as “Aesthetics & Astronomy” (A&A, for short). It’s a research study we’re conducting along with a team of experts outside of astrophysics to see just how the public perceives and understands the images we put out, as well as those from other observatories and wavelengths.

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Women in the High-Energy Universe: Nancy Brickhouse

Aug
19

This marks the start of a new feature in the Chandra blog that we are calling "Women in the High-Energy Universe." The goal is to highlight and promote the many important ways that women contribute to the pursuit of understanding the Universe through high-energy astrophysics. We've asked various women to tell us -- in their own words -- about their experiences and perspectives of their careers. We invite you to submit your own additional questions to these women, and we will attempt to get them answered. In the meantime, let's meet Dr. Nancy Brickhouse, the first one featured in our new section.

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Galactic Super-volcano in Action

Aug
18
M87

This image shows the eruption of a galactic "super-volcano" in the massive galaxy M87, as witnessed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and NSF's Very Large Array (VLA). At a distance of about 50 million light years, M87 is relatively close to Earth and lies at the center of the Virgo cluster, which contains thousands of galaxies.

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Image Genetics: Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM)

Aug
16

A random image of a mountainous landscape may be beautiful, but without some context and background information, i.e. metadata, you will likely have no idea where in the world the picture was taken, or even exactly what it is that you're looking at. Questions such as "How tall is that mountain?" "How far away is it from the photographer?" or "Where and when was this picture taken?" are all virtually impossible to answer just by looking at the image.

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A Surprisingly Quiet Sun

Aug
06

In my last entry I described that particles coming out of the Sun -- especially what we call "soft" protons -- can damage the CCDs that we use on-board Chandra to detect X-rays. Because of this, we use a complicated network of on-board, space-based and ground-based monitors to ensure that the ACIS detector doesn't see too many of these protons. When the Sun was active, we often shut down the detector so that no damage would occur. Due to the solar cycle hitting a down phase, called "solar minimum," we haven't had to shutdown the detectors since 2006.

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