Disruption of Asteroids by Supermassive Black Holes

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."

Chandra and the Latest Giant Solar Flare

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.


Dark Matter and Galaxies Part Ways in Collision between Hefty Galaxy Clusters

Abell 520

This composite image shows the distribution of dark matter, galaxies, and hot gas in the core of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520, formed from a violent collision of massive galaxy clusters that is located about 2.4 billion light years from Earth.

The Unexpected: The Solar System

Looking back on the more than twelve years of science from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and trying to predict what it will find in the future, one thing is certain: we can expect the unexpected.

This blog series will look at both some of the anticipated findings from the past dozen or so years, plus some of the unexpected results so far from the Chandra mission. Today, we look at discoveries involving our Solar System.

Expected and Detected:
X-ray emission was detected from the atmospheres of planets and comets. The X-rays are produced when solar X-rays and high-speed particles flowing away from the Sun hit these atmospheres. The observed X-radiation provides information on the outer atmospheres of these objects that is difficult to obtain with other telescopes.

Comet C/1999 S4

AAAS Meeting in Vancouver


While we usually talk about meetings where astronomers get together, there are also other meetings where all types of scientists meet and exchange ideas. The AAAS meeting is one of them. "AAAS" stands for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and it is the world's largest general scientific society.

NASA'S Chandra Finds Fastest Wind From Stellar-Mass Black Hole

IGR J17091-3624

This artist's impression shows a binary system containing a stellar-mass black hole called IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short. The strong gravity of the black hole, on the left, is pulling gas away from a companion star on the right. This gas forms a disk of hot gas around the black hole, and the wind is driven off this disk.

Q and A of the Day: Where did the name "Chandra" come from?

Q: Where did the name "Chandra" originate?

A: NASA's premier X-ray observatory was named the Chandra X-ray Observatory in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (pronounced: su/bra/mon'/yon chandra/say/kar). Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), he was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century.

NASA's Chandra Finds Milky Way's Black Hole May be Grazing on Asteroids

Sagittarius A*

This image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the center of our Galaxy, with a supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short) in the center. Using intermittent observations over several years, Chandra has detected X-ray flares about once a day from Sgr A*. The flares have also been seen in infrared data from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Remembering Columbia

Nine years ago today, we experienced a terrible tragedy. On February 1, 2003, the seven-member crew of STS-107 was lost when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana on its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.


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