Marusa Bradac: I do astronomy because it fascinates me. And it is the simplest things about it that amaze me most. I still remember times when I was a little girl watching stars with my dad in my home country Slovenia and wondering, "how far away are they?" I also remember how exciting it was when I first saw the Andromeda galaxy in our backyard. These days I moved on to much bigger things called clusters of galaxies. But the excitement of the question of how far away they really are is still there.
We recently featured a composite image of Chandra and Hubble data of the object known as M87. This object, which gets its name from being the 87th object in Charles Messier's catalog, is the giant elliptical galaxy in what is known as the Virgo Cluster. If you are interested in astronomy, you have probably heard of the Virgo Cluster. What makes this cluster of galaxies so important that it seems like astronomers use every type of telescope to study it?
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower signing the National Aeronautics Space Act. This little wiggle of the pen created the agency we all know today as NASA.
Last week, we put out a press release on an elliptical galaxy known as NGC 4649. Using Chandra data, a group of astronomers measured the temperature of the hot gas around the galaxy to come up with an independent way to measure the size of the gigantic black hole at the center. You can read more about the details in the press release.
Nine years ago this week, Chandra was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (sadly lost in the tragedy of 2003). While the satellite has performed excellently since it was deployed on July 23, 1999, there was a little drama in getting it going. You can read about some of the angst-inducing moments in the days leading up to launch in our Chandra Chronicles from that time.
With the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO's International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) almost here, the Albert Dock in Liverpool, UK recently hosted the first event displaying breathtaking images from an IYA2009 Cornerstone Project, "From the Earth to the Universe".
Part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Series:
Hearing rumors about the Bhutanese prince's presence around the Smithsonian Folklife Festival was exciting. I spoke with other members from the NASA group about the etiquette when being nearby or meeting the prince. For the next week there would be hundreds of NASA and NASA related scientists, engineers, managers, and other personnel volunteering their time to talk about what they do and what drives them.
This week, many Americans will celebrate the 4th of July by enjoying fireworks. We love to see the explosion, followed by the colorful debris field as it expands and rains down from the sky. And, fireworks are often slightly different from one another â€“ even if they originate from the same type of explosion. Of course, if they have different types or proportions of chemicals before in the explosive itself, the fireworks can look dramatically different. And, donâ€™t forget that the environment they explode into â€“ include wind or clouds of smoke â€“ can affect how they look.
Well, you won't get to shake hands with the spacecraft, of course, because it's doing its job thousands of miles above the Earth's surface. You can, however, see a giant model of Chandra, view large-scale images, and meet many people who have worked on the mission during this year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Some of our favorite Chandra images will be on display
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