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Recent Podcast
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, we have released four new images of supernova remnants. These show Chandra's ability to study the remains of supernova explosions, using images that are the sharpest available in X-ray astronomy. The images of the Tycho and G292.0+1.8 supernova remnants show how Chandra can trace the expanding debris of an exploded star. The images show shock waves, similar to sonic booms from a supersonic plane, that travel through space at speeds of millions of miles per hour. The images of the Crab Nebula and 3C58 show the effects of very dense, rapidly spinning neutron stars created when a massive star explodes. These neutron stars can create clouds of high-energy particles that glow brightly in X-rays. The image for G292 shows oxygen (yellow and orange), and other elements such as magnesium (green) and silicon and sulfur (blue) that were forged in the star before it exploded. For the other images, the lower energy X-rays are shown in red and green and the highest energy X-rays are shown in blue. (2014-07-22)
Audio Podcasts: "Touch the Invisible Sky"

Simon Steel reads "Touch the Invisible Sky" Braille book (Introduction)


The Universe is huge. Almost everything that we know about distant objects in the Universe comes from studying the light that is emitted or reflected by them. On Earth, geologists can study rocks by collecting them. Astronauts traveled to the Moon in 1969 and collected moon rocks, but the stars and galaxies are so far away that the primary way we can learn about them is from their light.

Astronomy is a little like Archaeology. This is because the light from stars and galaxies may take hundreds, thousands or even millions of years to reach our telescopes. We observe that star or galaxy as it looked when the light was emitted, hundreds or thousands or millions of years ago. For example, when astronomers study a galaxy that is 200 million light years away, they are observing that galaxy as it appeared 200 million years ago. Looking out in space is like looking back in time. Fortunately, the stream of light from those stars and galaxies contains an incredible amount of information. Simply by analyzing star light, we can tell the distance, age, size and chemical composition of a celestial object way beyond their grasp. Astronomers are space detectives, intent on solving the mysteries of how galaxies, stars and planets are born, evolve and behave. Perhaps most importantly, the story of the Universe is also the story of us. In unraveling the mysteries of the Universe, we are also beginning to understand our place in our cosmic home.

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