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Recent Podcast
A Tour of X9 in 47 Tucanae
A Tour of X9 in 47 Tucanae
In astronomy, a binary system is one where two objects are close enough that they orbit each other because they are gravitationally bound to one another. (2017-03-13)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of NGC 1068
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

This image shows one of the nearest and brightest galaxies to the Milky Way that contains a rapidly growing supermassive black hole known as NGC 1068. X-rays from Chandra along with optical data from Hubble show the majestic spiral structure of this galaxy. Radio data from the Very Large Array expose a jet of material blasting away from the giant black hole at the galaxy’s core. The Chandra data also reveal a strong wind that is being driven away at a million miles per hour from this same region. This wind is probably gas that has been accelerated and heated as it swirls towards the black hole. These results help explain how a supermassive black hole can alter the evolution of the galaxy in which it lives.
[Runtime: 0:54]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/C.Canizares, D.Evans et al), Optical (NASA/STScI), Radio (NSF/NRAO/VLA))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of NGC 1399
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes in Chile suggest that a star has been torn apart by an intermediate-mass black hole. In this image, x-rays from Chandra are shown in blue and are overlaid on an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope in the galaxy known as NGC 1399. The Chandra observations show that one of these objects is a so-called ultraluminous x-ray source, or ULX. ULXs are an unusual class of objects. They emit more x-rays than any known star, but less than the bright x-ray sources associated with supermassive black holes. They may actually be an elusive middle-sized black hole that astronomers have been looking for. If confirmed, this latest discovery from Chandra would be a cosmic double-play. It would be strong evidence for this intermediate-mass black hole, and it would mark the first time such a black hole has been caught tearing apart an entire star.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J. Irwin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of NGC 7793
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

This composite image shows the nearby galaxy NGC 7793 that contains a powerful microquasar in its outskirts. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory is colored red, green and blue, while optical data from the Very Large Telescope is light blue, and optical emission by hydrogen, known as "H-alpha", is colored gold. A microquasar is a system in which a stellar-mass black hole is being fed by a companion star. Gas swirling toward the black hole forms a disk around it. Twisted magnetic fields in the disk generate strong electromagnetic forces that propel some of the gas away from the disk at high speeds in two separate jets. These create a huge bubble of hot gas about 1,000 light years across.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/Univ of Strasbourg/M. Pakull et al); H-alpha (NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO 1.5m))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of Rosette Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

This spectacular image shows the Rosette star formation region, which is located about 5,000 light years from Earth. X-rays from the Chandra X-ray Observatory reveal hundreds of young stars clustered in the center of the image and additional fainter clusters on either side. Optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the Kitt Peak National Observatory show large areas of gas and dust, including giant pillars that remain behind after intense radiation from massive stars has eroded the more diffuse gas. The combination of the X-ray and optical data lead astronomers to believe that stars are still forming in the central cluster of the Rosette, known as NGC 2237. Astronomers are also using these data to piece together the history of this gorgeous region. The Rosette Nebula has long been a favorite target of amateur astronomers in the constellation the Unicorn. The wispy colorful structures in the optical data can sometimes be seen by small telescopes from the ground here on Earth.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Wang et al), Optical (DSS & NOAO/AURA/NSF/KPNO 0.9-m/T. Rector et al))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of Sagittarius A*
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Astronomers have long known that the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is a particularly poor eater. The fuel for this black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short), comes from powerful winds blown off nearby stars. Scientists have previously calculated that Sgr A* should consume about one percent of the fuel carried in the winds. However, it now appears that Sgr A* consumes much less than even that. It only ingests about one percent of that one percent. Why does it consume so little? A theoretical model based on these new deep data seen in this Chandra image may provide the answer. It turns out that there is an inner and outer region around the black hole. Pressure flowing outward causes nearly all of the gas to move away from the black hole. This in turn starves the black hole of much of its fuel, and this is why astronomers have seen so little activity from this, our closest supermassive black hole.
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(NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K. Baganoff et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of SDSS J1254+0846
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Two quasars have been caught in the act of merging, thanks to this new image. Quasars are some of the brightest objects in the universe and are thought to be very distant galaxies with powerful black holes at their centers. This particular pair is located about 4.6 billion light years from Earth. In this image, X-rays from Chandra show the two quasars as bright blue circles. Optical data from a telescope in Chile show tidal tails fanning out from the two colliding galaxies. These tails contain streams of stars and gas that have been stripped by gravity as the two galaxies head towards their ultimate collision.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/P. Green et al.), Optical (Carnegie Obs./Magellan/W.Baade Telescope/J.S.Mulchaey et al.))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of Super-volcano M87
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Earlier this year, a powerful volcano in Iceland erupted and caused havoc with air traffic around Europe. Elsewhere in the Universe, a similar galactic super volcano has been erupting for millions of years. This composite image from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio data from the Very Large Array shows a cosmic volcano being driven by a black hole in the center of the M87 galaxy. This eruption is pumping energy into the black holes surroundings and preventing hundreds of millions of new stars from forming just as the volcano in Iceland caused disruptions in the Earths atmosphere. The comparison between the black hole in M87 and the volcano in Iceland shows that even though astronomical phenomena occur in exotic settings and over huge scales, the physics can be very similar to events on Earth.
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(X-ray (NASA/CXC/KIPAC/N. Werner, E. Million et al); Radio (NRAO/AUI/NSF/F. Owen) Volcano image: Omar Ragnarsson)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M87

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of 30 Doradus
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Chandra's X-ray image of the Tarantula Nebula gives scientists a close-up view of the drama of star formation and star evolution. The Tarantula, also known as 30 Doradus, is one of the most active star-forming regions in a galaxy close to the Milky Way. Massive stars in 30 Doradus are producing intense radiation and searing winds of multimillion-degree gas. These winds carve out gigantic super-bubbles in the surrounding gas as seen in the Chandra data. Other massive stars have raced through their evolution and exploded catastrophically as supernovas. These events leave behind pulsars and expanding remnants that trigger the collapse of giant clouds of dust and gas to form new generations of stars.
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(NASA/CXC/Penn State/L.Townsley, et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of Abell 85
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

The composite image shows the galaxy cluster known as Abell 85, which is located about 740 million light years from Earth. The purple emission is multi-million degree gas detected in X-rays by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the other colors show galaxies in an optical image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This galaxy cluster is one of 86 observed by Chandra to trace how dark energy has stifled the growth of these massive structures over the last 7 billion years. Galaxy clusters are the largest collapsed objects in the Universe and are ideal for studying the properties of dark energy, the mysterious form of repulsive gravity that is driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe. Understanding the nature of dark energy is one of the biggest mysteries in science today.
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(Credits: X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Vikhlinin et al.); Optical (SDSS))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of Cassiopeia A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Cassiopeia A is a supernova remnant found embedded in the constellation that bears its name, which is known as the queen in Greek mythology. Along with virtually all modern telescopes, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has devoted a great deal of time to examine this aftermath of an exploded star. The latest results from Chandra reveal new details about the neutron star, which is the ultra-dense core of the star that exploded. For the first time, astronomers have determined that this stellar nub has an incredibly thin atmosphere of carbon on its surface. This is an important clue in deducing the true nature of this mysterious source which lies at the center of one of astronomy's most famous objects.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/Southampton/W. Ho et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss.)

Related Chandra Images: