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Recent Podcast
X-ray Vision Reveals the Insides of Stars
X-ray Vision Reveals the Insides of Stars
Each of these four fabulous photographs shows the remains of an exploded star - called a supernova remnant. (2014-07-23)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of Arp 147
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Just in time for Valentine's Day comes a new image of a ring -- not of jewels -- but of black holes. This image shows Arp 147, a pair of interacting galaxies some 430 million light years from Earth, as seen by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. The ring-shaped object on the right is a remnant of a spiral galaxy that collided with the elliptical galaxy to the left millions of years ago. The collision triggered a wave of star formation. Many of these new young stars raced through their evolution in a few million years or less and ended up as supernova explosions or black holes. X-rays from Chandra now reveal a ring of these black holes in the outer arms of the spiral structure. Researchers estimate that the nine sources around the ring are likely 10 to 20 times more massive than the Sun a rather impressive weight for any Valentines gift.
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(X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/S.Rappaport et al, Optical: NASA/STScI)

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Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of Carina Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Located in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way a mere 7,500 light years from Earth, the Carina Nebula is one of the best places to study how massive stars live and die. Chandra's extraordinarily sharp X-ray vision has detected over 14,000 stars in this region, revealed a diffuse X-ray glow, and provided strong evidence that supernovas have already occurred in this massive complex of young stars. This includes a scarcity of giant stars in the region known as Trumpler 15. This is evidence that many stars here have already exploded and disappeared. The most famous star in the Carina Nebula is Eta Carinae, which many astronomers believe will itself soon explode as a supernova.
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(NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al & A.Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of CDFS
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This animation shows an artist's impression of a distant galaxy and its hidden black hole found in an epoch when the Universe was less than one billion years old. The galaxy contains regions of active star formation (blue) and large amounts of gas and dust (red). The view zooms into the galaxy, and a glowing disk of hot gas falling onto massive central object is seen. At the center of the disk is a supermassive black hole. Many types of radiation emitted from the disk are blocked by the veil of dust and gas, but very energetic X-rays are able to escape. Scientists found many of these black holes in the early Universe using the new Chandra Deep Field South.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of CID 1711 and CID 3083
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers have recently completed a large survey of the sky using some of the powerful telescopes both on the ground and in space. This survey, known as the Cosmic Evolution Survey, or COSMOS, has revealed many results. The latest comes from a study of galaxies, both in pairs and others on their own. Researchers wanted to test whether or not close encounters between two galaxies trigger activity in the supermassive black holes at their centers. The two galaxies seen here are just samples from the thousands of galaxies they studied. The Chandra data were key because the X-rays can pinpoint just how active these black holes are. It turns out that the black holes within these galaxies are, in fact, growing more rapidly if they are in the early stages of an encounter with another galaxy. Maybe galaxies and their black holes are social after all.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of CoRoT-2A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In recent years, astronomers have found hundreds of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. New Chandra observations of one of these planets reveal that it is in a fairly dire situation. The Chandra data provide evidence that the star in this system, known as CoRoT-2a, is blasting a planet that is in an extremely close orbit around it with very powerful X-rays. These X-rays are a hundred thousand times more intense than those that the Earth receives from the Sun, and are causing some serious damage. Astronomers estimate that this high-energy radiation is evaporating about 5 million tons of matter every second from the planet. Future observations with Chandra and other telescopes should reveal more details about what's going on in this system and perhaps others like it. In the meantime, let's be happy that the Earth isn't anything like this fried planet.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of Cygnus X-1
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed, and eventually lost, a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1. Today, astronomers are confident the Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole. In fact, a team of scientists has combined data from radio, optical, and X-ray telescopes including Chandra to determine the black hole's spin, mass, and distance more precisely than ever before. With these key pieces of information, the history of the black hole has been reconstructed. This new information gives astronomers strong clues about how the black hole was born, how much it weighed, and how fast it was spinning. This is important because scientists still would like to know much more about the birth of black holes.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of G299.2-2.9
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only G299.2-2.9 is an intriguing supernova remnant found about 16,000 light years away in the Milky Way galaxy. Here we see the remnant in X-rays from Chandra overlaid on infrared data from the Two-Micron All-Sky Survey. Astronomers have gathered evidence that shows this remnant is the aftermath of what is called a Type Ia supernova. Type Ias happen when a white dwarf grows too massive and violently explodes. Astronomers want to understand the exact details of how Type Ias explode because they use them to measure the accelerated expansion of the universe and study dark energy. Because it is older than most Type Ias found so far, G299.2-2.9 provides astronomers with an excellent opportunity to study how these important objects evolve over time.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of Massive Stars in the Milky Way
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Like looking for Easter eggs in a lawn of long grass, the hunt for the Milky Way's most massive stars takes persistence and sharp eyes and powerful telescopes that can see different types of light. This image shows infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope near the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. These boxes contain a darkened view of the Spitzer data that highlights a bright Chandra X-ray source. Analysis of the X-ray and infrared data, as well as optical and radio observations, reveals that these bright sources are extremely massive stars. In fact, these stars are thought to be at least 25 times as massive as our Sun. It is difficult to find these stars with optical telescopes because dust and gas in the plane of the Milky Way blocks our view. We can see them in X-rays because high-speed winds from their surfaces collide with material, creating shock waves that generate temperatures up to 100 million degrees.
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(X-ray: NASA/U. of Sydney/G.Anderson et al; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Related Chandra Images:

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9. Tour of NGC 281
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only High-mass stars are important because they are responsible for much of the energy pumped into a galaxy over its lifetime. Unfortunately, these stars aren't understood very well because they are usually found relatively far away in places where lots of gas and dust can impede out line of sight. The star cluster NGC 281 is an exception to this rule. It is located about 6,500 light years from Earth and almost 1,000 light years above the plane of the Galaxy. This means it's away from much of stuff that blocks our view. Here we see NGC 281 in X-rays from Chandra and infrared data from Spitzer. The high-mass stars in NGC 281 have powerful winds flowing from their surfaces and intense radiation that heats surrounding gas, "boiling it away" into interstellar space. This process results in the formation of large columns of gas and dust, as seen on the left side of the image. These structures likely contain newly forming stars. The eventual deaths of massive stars as supernovas will also seed the galaxy with material and energy.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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10. Tour of NGC 3115
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This is NGC 3115, a galaxy located about 32 million light years from Earth. This composite image contains X-rays from Chandra as well as optical data from the Very Large Telescope. Using the new Chandra image, astronomers have imaged the flow of hot gas as it falls toward the supermassive black hole in the center of NGC 3115. This is the first time such a flow has been clearly imaged in any black hole. The Chandra data also provide evidence that the black hole in NGC 3115 has a mass of about two billion times that of the Sun. This would make NGC 3115 the host of the nearest billion-solar-mass black hole to Earth.
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(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images: