Smithsonian X 3D Explorer

Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): One of the most famous objects in the sky – the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant – is now on display like never before, thanks to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and a new project from the Smithsonian Institution. A new 3D viewer developed by the Smithsonian allows users to interact with one-of-a-kind objects like the Wright Brothers airplane and a 1,600-year-old stone Buddha. The only astronomical object in this special collection is Cassiopeia A, or Cas A for short.

Back in 2009, scientists combined data from Chandra, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities to construct a unique 3D model of Cas A, which is a 300-year old debris field that was created when as a massive star exploded. This new Smithsonian viewer will allow scientists and the public to tour this 3D model Cas A in exciting new ways by being able to fly around the remnant themselves. Users can also get more information about various parts of the supernova remnant by clicking on hotspots and following links to more in-depth articles. So we invite you to take a 3D ride unlike any you’ll find at the movie theater and explore Cas A in in a brand new one way.

Return to Podcasts

HD 189733: NASA's Chandra Sees Eclipsing Planet in X-rays for First Time

View/Listen
Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): HD 189733b: An exoplanet in orbit around a star about 63 light years from Earth. It has been nearly two decades since the first exoplanets – that is, planets around stars other than our Sun – were discovered. Now for the first time, X-ray observations have detected an exoplanet passing in front of its parent star. The observations, made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory, took advantage of the alignment of a planet and its parent star in HD 189733. This alignment enabled the observatories to observe a dip in X-ray intensity as the planet moved in front of, or transited, the star. This technique is the one used so successfully at optical wavelengths by NASA's Kepler telescope. In earlier studies using optical light, astronomers discovered that the main star in the HD 189733 system had what is known as a "hot Jupiter" around it. This means the planet is about the size of Jupiter, but in very close orbit around its star. The planet – that has been named HD 189733b -- is over 30 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, and goes around the star once every 2.2 days. The new X-ray data suggest that this planet has a larger atmosphere than previously thought. This, in turn, may imply that radiation from the parent star is evaporating the atmosphere of HD 189733b more quickly than expected. The results on HD 189733 demonstrate how we need information from many different telescopes that detect different types of light to get a fuller picture of these mysterious worlds that we are now able to explore.

PODCASTS | MAIN MENU