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A Glance at Chandra's Major Achievements

September 1, 2005 ::
Chandra has made many discoveries since its launch aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999 -- too many to list on a single page. However, it is possible to touch upon the areas of astrophysics where Chandra's unique abilities have made significant advancements.

X-ray Background

Deep Fields
The four-decades old question of the nature of the X-ray background radiation was solved within a few months of the launch of Chandra by the resolution of X-ray background into sources that are supermassive black holes. Subsequent Chandra observations have provided new insight into the growth patterns of these black holes.

Young Stars

Young Stars
A long Chandra observation of a rich cluster of young stars in the Orion Nebula showed that young Sun-like stars with ages between 1 and 10 million years produce violent X-ray outbursts, or flares, that are much more frequent and energetic than anything seen today from our 4.6 billion-year-old Sun.

Supernova Shock Waves

Cassiopeia A
Chandra images and spectra have allowed scientists to trace shock waves generated by stellar explosions, or supernovas, and to study the amount and distribution of heavy elements expelled by the explosions.

Pulsar Rings and Jets

Mkn 421
Chandra images of the Crab Nebula and Vela supernova remnants revealed spectacular rings and jets of high-energy particles created by rapidly rotating neutron stars and established that neutron stars are extremely efficient generators of high-energy particles and magnetic fields.

Black Hole Discoveries

Intermediate-Mass Black Hole
Chandra observations have revealed the presence of many previously undetected stellar black holes in the Milky Way and in nearby galaxies, including a possible new class of black hole, called intermediate-mass black holes.

Far-Reaching Explosive Activity of Black Holes

Black Hole Explosion
Chandra images of galaxy clusters have revealed startling evidence for the repetitive and far-reaching explosive activity associated with supermassive black holes. One of these eruptions may be the most energetic explosion ever recorded.

Discovery of Hot Intergalactic Matter

Mkn 421
Chandra has discovered two intergalactic clouds of diffuse hot gas at distances of 150 million and 370 million light years, respectively. The distant clouds are likely part of a predicted vast, web-like system of intergalactic gas clouds, galaxies, and dark matter - the cosmic web. X-ray, ultraviolet and optical data provide strong evidence that most of the matter in the Universe is located in the cosmic web.
More on Chandra's 6th year at http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/05_releases/press_082305.html


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