Ten years ago tomorrow (August 26th), the official First Light image from Chandra was released to the world. The image was of the famous supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, taken less than a month after Chandra was deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Snapshots of Cassiopeia A
OK, technically speaking, this week's International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting is not on the beach in Copacabana, but it is in Rio de Janeiro. Most of the attendees are staying at hotels in the made-famous-by-Barry-Manilow section of Rio, but the conference is really being held at the Sul America Convention Center (see picture) in the central part of the city. (The alternate headline for this post was going to be "The Girl from Ipanema" so maybe the one being used now seems a little less cheesy by comparison.)
It's been ten years since Chandra was launched. A decade is a long time for a spacecraft, or any other complex machine, to operate without maintenance. Hubble has been up 18 years (launch 1991), but it has had regular maintenance with five Space Shuttle crews putting in new instruments and replacing worn out old parts. Chandra, on the other hand, was deliberately placed where the Shuttle couldn't service it. So Chandra's not doing badly considering there will be no 200-million-mile/10-year tune up!
This image of the debris of an exploded star - known as supernova remnant 1E 0102.2-7219, or "E0102" for short - features data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. E0102 is located about 190,000 light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way. It was created when a star that was much more massive than the Sun exploded, an event that would have been visible from the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth over 1000 years ago.
The Chandra EPO group has put together the following list of cool Chandra stories, realizing that if too many people agree that they're cool, they may cease to be cool. The list is not in any order of priority because we suspect that would be uncool.
Recently, we released a beautiful image of Stephan's Quintet, showing a group of galaxies and the effects of a galactic collision. In our caption we noted that NGC 7320, the blue galaxy near the bottom of the image, is not a member of the group but is located much closer to the Earth. This is because, as stated in the journal paper by Ewan O'Sullivan, NGC 7320 has a much lower redshift than the other galaxies, and a lower redshift means a smaller distance according to standard cosmology.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic landing on the Moon, when human beings stepped on our favorite (and only) natural satellite for the first time. This will be in the news all week, so we thought it would be a good time to revisit Chandra's contribution to studying the Moon.
Last month, over one hundred astronomers met for several days of marathon sessions in a Boston-area hotel. The purpose of this intense gathering, which takes a lot of work for the Chandra X-ray Center to organize, was to decide what Chandra will observe in the upcoming year. This process, called "peer review," is the engine that drives the science that Chandra discovers.
This beautiful image gives a new look at Stephan's Quintet, a compact group of galaxies discovered about 130 years ago and located about 280 million light years from Earth. The curved, light blue ridge running down the center of the image shows X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Four of the galaxies in the group are visible in the optical image (yellow, red, white and blue) from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.
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