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Recent Podcast
Space Scoop: Sweeping Supernovas
Space Scoop: Sweeping Supernovas
This space photograph shows a supernova remnant that is sweeping up a remarkable amount of material. (2014-04-16)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of G292.01+8
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This image shows how complex a star's afterlife can be. At a distance of about 20,000 light years, G292 is one of only three supernova remnants in the Milky Way galaxy known to contain large amounts of oxygen. This image from Chandra shows us that G292 is now a rapidly-expanding debris field that contains, along with oxygen, other elements such as neon and silicon that were forged in the star before it exploded.

By mapping the distribution of X-rays in different energy bands, astronomers can trace the distribution of chemical elements ejected in the supernova. The results imply that the explosion was not symmetrical. For example, silicon and sulfur, which are colored blue in this image, and magnesium, which is green, are seen strongly in the upper right. On the other hand, oxygen, which appears as yellow and orange, dominates the lower left. Studying the details of this X-ray image allows astronomers to better understand how some stars die and disperse important elements like oxygen into the next generation of stars and planets.
[Runtime: 1:11]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.; Optical: Pal.Obs. DSS)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of Kepler
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The supernova explosion that created this object was witnessed on Earth about 400 ago years by many skywatchers, including the astronomer Johannes Kepler. This object, which now bears Kepler's name, is the remains of a massive star's demise. Visible-light from Hubble reveals where the supernova shock wave is slamming into the densest regions of surrounding gas. Spitzer shows microscopic dust particles that have been heated by the supernova shock wave. The X-ray data from Chandra show regions of very hot gas as well as extremely high-energy particles. The remnant of Kepler's supernova is possibly the last supernova seen to explode in our Galaxy. It is located about 13,000 light years from Earth.
[Runtime: 0:46]
(NASA/ESA/JHU/R.Sankrit & W.Blair)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of M84
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only M84 is a massive elliptical galaxy located about 55 million light years from Earth in the Virgo Cluster. This composite image is made from X-rays from Chandra, which are colored blue, and radio emission from the Very Large Array that is seen as red. The interesting thing about this image is that astronomers can trace a number of bubbles generated by particles moving at nearly the speed of light. These particles are propelled by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy in the form of a two-sided jet. By studying objects like M84, astronomers hope to better understand how black holes influence the environments that surround them.
[Runtime: 0.41]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/MPE/A.Finoguenov et al.); Radio (NSF/NRAO/VLA/ESO/R.A.Laing et al); Optical (SDSS))

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M84

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of M87
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only M87 is a giant elliptical galaxy. At a distance of about 60 million light-years from Earth, M87 is the largest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of some 2,000 galaxies. Bright jets moving at close to the speed of light are seen at nearly all wavelengths, powered by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. In X-rays, M87 shows evidence for a series of outbursts from the black hole. These outbursts appear as loops and bubbles in the data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The Hubble Space Telescope shows that the monstrous elliptical galaxy is also home to trillions of stars and thousands of globular clusters. Because of its proximity and brightness, as well as its intriguing properties, M87 is one of the most popular targets for amateur and professional astronomers alike.
[Runtime: 0.58]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/W. Forman et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/W. Cotton; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M87

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of Macs J0025.4-1222
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Two galaxy clusters, each a quadrillion times the mass of the Sun, collided to form the system formally known as Macs J0025.4-1222. When these clusters merged at speeds of millions of miles per hour, the hot gas in each cluster collided and slowed down, but the dark matter in each system did not. Optical images from Hubble were used to infer the distribution of the total mass, which includes dark matter, using a technique known as gravitational lensing. This is seen as blue in the image. Chandra data enabled astronomers to accurately map the position of the ordinary matter, mostly in the form of hot gas, which glows brightly in X-rays and is colored pink in the composite. The separation between the pink and the blue provides direct evidence for the existence of dark matter.

In some ways, Macs J0025 can be thought of as a prequel to the famous system known as the Bullet Cluster. At a much larger distance of 5.7 billion light years, astronomers are witnessing this collision that occurred long before the Bullet Cluster. This finding is important because it independently verifies the results found for the Bullet Cluster in 2006, and shows once again that dark matter is real.
[Runtime: 1.25]
(X-ray(NASA/CXC/Stanford/S.Allen); Optical/Lensing(NASA/STScI/UC Santa Barbara/M.Bradac))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of NGC 4258
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The galaxy NGC 4258 has its arms crossed. At least it appears that it does. A composite image of NGC 4258, about 25 million light-years from Earth, shows an X-shaped pattern when seen in different types of light. Infrared radiation from the Spitzer Space Telescope and optical light data from the Digitized Sky Survey show one set of arms, which are made from stars and dust from the galaxy. However, x-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and radio emission from the Very Large Array reveal a different pair of arms. These dislocated arms are the result of shockwaves, generated by the giant black hole in the center of NGC 4258.
[Runtime: 043]
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Maryland/A.S. Wilson et al.; Optical: Pal.Obs. DSS; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech; VLA: NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of Perseus A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The giant galaxy, Perseus A, which is also known as NGC 1275, is a well-known source of strong radio radiation. This object is also a bright emitter of X-rays due to the presence of a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. This mammoth galaxy lies at the center of the cluster of galaxies known as Perseus.

By combining images from several telescopes into a single composite, the dynamics of the galaxy are more easily visible. Detail and structure from X-ray, optical and radio wavelengths combine for a beautiful yet violent depiction of the events going on at the heart of the galaxy. In the composite image, the X-ray data are seen as the soft purple shells around the outside of the galaxy. The pinkish lobes toward the center of the galaxy are from radio frequencies. The radio emission, tracing jets from the black hole, fills the X-ray cavities. Dust lanes, star-forming regions, hydrogen filaments, foreground stars and background galaxies are all contributions from Hubble’s optical data.
[Runtime: 1.07]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G. Taylor; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA) & Univ. of Cambridge/IoA/A. Fabian)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of RCW 108
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only RCW 108 is a region where stars are actively forming about 4,000 light-years from Earth. This is a complicated part of our galaxy that contains young star clusters, including one that is deeply embedded in a cloud of molecular hydrogen. In Chandra's X-ray image, over 400 sources of X-ray light are seen. Many of these X-ray sources are young stars undergoing massive flaring just as our Sun did billions of years ago. The infrared Spitzer image shows the clouds of dust and gas in this region. The bright knot of orange and red is where a cluster of young stars is hidden. Astronomers think that intense radiation from massive stars in another nearby cluster, just out of view to the left of this image, is destroying the cloud that contains this cluster. While this sounds very violent and destructive, it is in fact a good thing. This will trigger a new generation of stars to form, continuing the cycle of stellar life and death in the Universe.
[Runtime: 1.05]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/S.Wolk et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of SN 1006
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over a thousand years ago, a new object was spotted in the sky that was brighter than Venus and visible during the day for weeks. This spectacular lightshow was documented in China, Japan, Europe and the Arab world, and we now know it was the brightest supernova ever recorded on Earth. By using modern telescopes that detect optical, radio and x-ray light, astronomers can continue to study the expanding debris field. The original star was actually one of a pair. One star pulled so much material from its companion, that eventually it triggered an explosion that destroyed it. What remains is this complicated and beautiful structure which astronomers call Supernova 1006. This helps us better understand how some stars explode.
[Runtime: 0.45]
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G.Cassam-Chenaï, J.Hughes et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical: Middlebury College/F.Winkler, NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of SN1996cr
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In 1995 or 1996 a supernova exploded in a nearby galaxy, but no one on Earth knew it at the time. By using the vast amounts of online data now available, a team of astronomers was able to piece together this cosmic case over a decade later. A Chandra observation in 2001 started things off by showing that this object was a bright source that was changing in its X-ray brightness. This led to an investigation that involved some 18 different telescopes on the ground and in space. Ultimately, astronomers realized that this object - now known as supernova 1996cr - was one of the nearest and brightest to have gone off in the last 25 years.
[Runtime: 0.50]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/Columbia/F.Bauer et al); Optical (NASA/STScI/UMD/A.Wilson et al.))

Related Chandra Images: