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Recent Podcast
A Tour of GW170817
A Tour of GW170817
Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make the first X-ray detection of a gravitational wave source. (2017-10-16)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of G299.2-2.9
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Over its decade and a half in orbit, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has looked at many different objects. Some of its most spectacular images are undoubtedly of supernova remnants. Because the debris fields of exploded stars are very hot and energetic, they glow brightly in X-ray light. The supernova remnant called G299.2-2.9, or G299 for short, is no exception. This new Chandra image of G299 shows a beautiful and intricate structure in the expanding remains of the shattered star. By analyzing the details of the remnant today, astronomers can get information about the explosion that created the remnant about 4,500 years ago.
[Runtime: 00:55]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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2. Tour of GK Persei
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand the lifecycle of their births, lives, and deaths. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have studied one particular explosion that may provide clues to the dynamics of other, much larger stellar eruptions. A team of researchers pointed the telescope at GK Persei, an object that became a sensation in the astronomical world in 1901 when it suddenly appeared as one of the brightest stars in the sky for a few days, before gradually fading away. Today, astronomers cite GK Persei as an example of a "classical nova," an outburst produced by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star, the dense remnant of a Sun-like star. Classical novas can be considered to be “miniature” versions of supernova explosions that signal the destruction of an entire star and can be so bright that they outshine the whole galaxy where they are found. Although the remnants of supernovas are much more massive and energetic than classical novas, some of the fundamental physics is the same. And since classical novas can evolve much more quickly than supernovas, astronomers can use them to study how these explosions change over time. In the case of GK Persei, astronomers were able to compare Chandra observations from 2000 and again nearly 14 years later. This information allows astronomers to observe changes in key properties of the expanding debris field from the nova, giving more insight to how these explosions contribute to the cosmic ecology.
[Runtime: 02:01]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of IC 443
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

The supernova remnant IC 443 has earned the nickname of the Jellyfish Nebula due to its distinctive shape. The Jellyfish Nebula, lying about 5,000 light years from Earth, is the remnant of a supernova that occurred over 10,000 years ago. Astronomers have been searching for the spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that may have formed in the explosion that created the Jellyfish Nebula. New Chandra observations show that a peculiar object, called J0617, may indeed be this pulsar.

When a massive star runs out of fuel, it implodes, and a dense stellar core, called a neutron star, is formed. The outer layers of the star collapse toward the neutron star then bounce outward in a supernova explosion. If the neutron star produces a beam of radiation and is rotating, it is called a pulsar, because pulses of radio waves and other types of radiation can be detected as the object spins.

The X-ray brightness of J0617 and its X-ray spectrum, that is, the amount of X-rays at different wavelengths, are consistent with the profiles from known pulsars. The spectrum and shape of the diffuse, or spread out, X-ray emission surrounding J0617 and extending well beyond the ring also match with expectations for a wind flowing from a pulsar.

While certain questions remain about this system, this latest research provides promise that astronomers may finally determine exactly what spawned the Jellyfish Nebula.
[Runtime: 02:52]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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4. Tour of il Gioiello Cluster
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity. Because of their immense size, their growth and evolution tell us a lot about how the Universe itself has changed over time. A newly discovered galaxy cluster provides some intriguing clues. This galaxy cluster is officially known as XDCP J0044.0-2033. Perhaps not surprisingly, astronomers decided to give a nickname to this mouthful of a cluster name. Because this cluster has many colors in X-ray light due to its plentiful hot gas and star forming galaxies, astronomers dubbed this the “Gioiello” Cluster, which means “Jewel” in Italian. The Gioiello Cluster is located about 9.6 billion light years from Earth. Scientists think this cluster formed approximately 3.3 billion years after the Big Bang. This means that the Gioiello Cluster is a mere 800 million years old as we observe it. A long observation from Chandra, totally over four days worth of observing time, provided astronomers with enough information to accurately determine the mass and other properties of the cluster. They found the Gioiello Cluster tops out at a whopping 400 trillion times the mass of the Sun. The discoveries of the Gioiello Cluster and others like it are helping astronomers better understand how galaxy clusters have developed over the lifetime of the Universe.
[Runtime: 01:56]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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5. Tour of IYL 2015
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light, or IYL for short, by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this year-long celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light.

In many ways, astronomy uses the science of light. By building telescopes that can detect light in its many forms from radio waves on one end of the "electromagnetic spectrum" to gamma rays on the other, scientists can get a better understanding of the processes at work in the Universe.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory explores the Universe in X-rays, a high-energy form of light. By studying X-ray data and comparing them with observations in other types of light, scientists can develop a better understanding of objects that generate temperatures of millions of degrees and produce X-rays.

To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a collection of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light. From a distant galaxy to the relatively nearby debris field of an exploded star, these images demonstrate the myriad ways that information about the Universe is communicated to us through light.

So join us in celebrating IYL and all of the amazing things that light can do, including how it helps us understand the Universe we live in.
[Runtime: 01:58]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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6. Tour of NGC 1333
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less than 2 million years old, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms for stars like the Sun that are expected to burn for billions of years.

A new composite image combines X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope as well as optical data from telescopes on the ground: the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomical Observatories' Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak.

What do X-rays from Chandra tell astronomers about NGC 1333? First, the Chandra data reveal 95 young stars glowing in X-ray light, 41 of which had not been identified before. Researchers also can use the X-ray data to learn about certain properties of the young stars in NGC 1333 and other clusters like it. By using the information from different telescopes that can detect different types of light, we can get a spectacular view of these beautiful cosmic fireworks.
[Runtime: 01:36]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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7. Tour of NGC 2276
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

For many years, astronomers have known about two distinct classes of black holes. The first is called stellar-mass black holes, containing between five and thirty times the mass of our Sun. The second well-known category of black is known as supermassive black holes. These black holes are giants found at the centers of galaxies, weighing millions or even billions of times the Sun's mass. What about black holes that fall in between? Astronomers have been trying to find and study these intermediate-mass black holes for many years. A newly discovered object in the galaxy NGC 2276 may be an important step in that direction. By combining X-rays from Chandra along with radio data, scientists determined that this object in one of the galaxy's spiral arms is about 50,000 times the mass of the Sun - a perfect fit for an intermediate-mass black hole. Astronomers also used these data to look at what kind of impact this source may be having on its surroundings. They found that this intermediate-mass black hole is producing a jet that appears to be squelching the formation of stars around it. Scientists will continue to study this and other intermediate-mass black holes to see how they fit into the larger picture of black holes, galaxies, and the Universe.
[Runtime: 01:50]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

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8. Tour of NGC 5813
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Galaxy groups are families of galaxies that are bound together by gravity. They are very similar to their larger cousins, galaxy clusters. Instead of containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies like clusters do, galaxy groups are typically comprised of 50 or fewer galaxies. Like galaxy clusters, groups of galaxies are enveloped by giant amounts of hot gas that emit X-rays. They also often contain a giant black hole at their center that can impact what's happening throughout the group.

Astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to study this in the galaxy group NGC 5813, which is located about 105 million light years from Earth. They found three pairs of cavities, or bubbles, that have been carved into the hot gas. These cavities were produced by jets of material that blasted out of the central black hole, including multiple eruptions that lasted for some 50 million years. Similar to how air bubbles will rise to the surface of water, these cavities have moved away from the galaxy group's center toward the edge of the hot gas. By studying the details of these cavities, astronomers can get a better understanding of just how supermassive black holes affect their cosmic surroundings.
[Runtime: 01:35]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of NGC 6388
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy. Using several telescopes, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers have found evidence that a white dwarf star - the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel - may have ripped apart a planet as it came too close.

How could a white dwarf star, which is only about the size of the Earth, be responsible for such an extreme act? The answer is gravity. When a star reaches its white dwarf stage, nearly all of the material from the star is packed inside a radius one hundredth that of the original star. This means that, for close encounters, the gravitational pull of the star and the tides associated with it are greatly enhanced. For example, the gravity at the surface of a white dwarf is over ten thousand times higher than the gravity at the surface of the Sun.

Chandra's excellent X-ray vision enabled the astronomers to determine that the X-rays from NGC 6388 were not coming from a black hole at the center of the cluster, but instead from a location slightly off to one side. This ruled out a central black hole as the source of the X-rays, so the hunt for clues about the nature of the X-rays in NGC 6388 continued. Monitoring NGC 6388 with the Swift telescope, astronomers watched as the source become dimmer over 200 days. The rate at which the X-ray brightness dropped matched theoretical models for the disruption of a planet by the gravitational tidal forces of a white dwarf. Astronomers will continue to study NGC 6388 in order to learn everything they can about this interesting object on the outskirts of our Milky Way galaxy.
[Runtime: 02:22]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

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

In 2012, astronomers announced the discovery of an extraordinary object. This galaxy cluster, which was found about 5.7 billion light years from Earth, shattered several important astronomical records. For example, it had the highest rate of cooling hot gas and star formation ever seen in the center of a galaxy cluster. Chandra observations also showed that it was the most powerful producer of X-rays of all known clusters. And, the rate at which hot gas is cooling in the center of the cluster was also the largest ever observed. The astronomers that found it nicknamed this system the Phoenix Cluster because it was found in the constellation of the Phoenix, and some of its behaviors resembled a galaxy cluster being brought back to life through new star formation.

Three years later, astronomers have gathered even more data on the Phoenix Cluster in X-ray, optical and ultraviolet light. These new observations have helped astronomers better understand what's happening in this object. They see holes, or cavities, in the X-ray data from Chandra that are surrounded by massive filaments of gas and dust. The combination of the X-ray cavities with the filaments may be responsible for the ultra-high rate of new stars forming in the Phoenix Cluster. Overall, the extreme properties of the Phoenix cluster system are providing new insights into various astrophysical problems, including the formation of stars, the growth of galaxies and black holes, and the co-evolution of black holes and their environment.
[Runtime: 01:56]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images: