The Bigger Picture

May
17

Take a look at "The Bigger Picture," a blog produced by the Smithsonian Photography Initiative (SPI). It aims to present an inside look at the Smithsonian's photography collections and invites audiences to engage in an online discussion about photography's powerful impact on our world. We contributed a post on "Seeing the Invisible (part I)" that you might enjoy: http://blog.photography.si.edu/2009/05/11/seeing-the-invisible/

-Kim Arcand, CXC

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An Intriguing Glowing Galaxy

May
14

Activity from a supermassive black hole is responsible for the intriguing appearance of this galaxy, 3C305, located about 600 million light years away from Earth. The structures in red and light blue are X-ray and optical images from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope respectively. The optical data is from oxygen emission only, and therefore the full extent of the galaxy is not seen.

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Chandra's One-time Shuttle Trip

May
11

This week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will return to the Hubble Space Telescope for a fifth and final time. The mission will bring the telescope new instruments, batteries, and gyroscopes that will extend its lifetime for hopefully several years or more.

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Resolving a Galactic Mystery

Apr
29

An extremely deep Chandra X-ray Observatory image of a region near the center of our Galaxy has resolved a long-standing mystery about an X-ray glow along the plane of the Galaxy. The glow in the region covered by the Chandra image was discovered to be caused by hundreds of point-like X- ray sources, implying that the glow along the plane of the Galaxy is due to millions of such sources.

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Meet an Astronomer: Eli Bressert

Apr
29

In this latest installment of our series, we sit down with Eli Bressert. Eli is responsible for making the Chandra images for the public that appear in press releases, on the website, in posters, etc. While we won't get into the technical details of how that gets done in this video blog, we did want to point out that this an important -- if lesser known -- job in the world of space science.

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"Hand"ling Information in Today's World

Apr
20

We've been publicizing and distributing Chandra results for nearly ten years now. One interesting trend we've watched over this time is how much things have changed in how people get their information. Back in the day, we would write a press release – sometimes even printing on paper! – and this would go to science reporters, who, in turn, would write articles for their newspapers, radio programs, or TV reports. The public would generally learn about our results by seeing them through these outlets.

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Cosmic Heavyweights in Free-For-All

Apr
16

This composite image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745 (MACSJ0717, for short), where four separate galaxy clusters have been involved in a collision, the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. Hot gas is shown in an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and galaxies are shown in an optical image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The hot gas is color-coded to show temperature, similar to a temperature map of the Earth given in a weather forecast.

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Celebrating Telescopic Diversity

Apr
13

This week, we released a new result that combines data from Chandra with two other telescopes (MacsJ0717.) The truth is that the multiple-telescope approach is Milky Way probably no longer the exception – rather it has become the rule. Modern astronomy and astrophysics is not about being identified with one wavelength as might have been the case in the past.

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Is it Easy Being Green?

Apr
06

Solar panels have been in the news a lot lately. First, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched to bring the final set of solar panels to the International Space Station. Then the astronauts onboard the ISS got a call from an interested member of the public - President Barack Obama - who wanted to talk,
among other things, about how the ISS uses solar power to generate its energy.

Well, as it turns out, the ISS is far from the only spacecraft up there using solar power. John Scott, a mission planner for Chandra's Flight Operation Team, describes how NASA's premier X-ray observatory is as green as can be.

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A Young Pulsar Shows its Hand

Apr
03

A small, dense object only twelve miles in diameter is responsible for this beautiful X-ray nebula that spans 150 light years. At the center of this image made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is a very young and powerful pulsar, known as PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short. The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand.

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