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Solar System
X-ray Astronomy Field Guide
Solar System
Questions and Answers
Solar System
Chandra Images
Solar System
Animations & Video: Solar System
Page 12
Click for high-resolution animation
1. Tour of Pluto
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

During the summer of 2015, scientists and the public alike were treated to a flood of images and discoveries about Pluto as the New Horizon spacecraft made an unprecedented flyby of the dwarf planet. The discoveries about Pluto didn't stop with the initial results that were released. Rather, the New Horizons spacecraft will provide scientists with years worth of discoveries of this cold and distant world.

While New Horizons is accomplishing much on its own, there is even more science to be uncovered when other telescopes join the effort. This is the case for X-ray observations of Pluto made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory as New Horizons made its approach and then flew by Pluto.

The Chandra data show that Pluto has surprisingly high amounts of X-ray emission for a cold and rocky planet that has no known significant magnetic field. While X-rays have been detected elsewhere in the Solar System -- including comets, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter - it appears that Pluto's X-rays are not generated in exactly the same way as these other objects. Rather, the researchers suggest that the X-rays from Pluto come from the interaction of gases in Pluto's atmosphere and the stream of particles from the Sun known as the solar wind. Scientists hope to learn more about Pluto and other objects in the outermost regions of our Solar System with future observations.
[Runtime: 02:19]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of Comets ISON & PanSTARRS
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

People on Earth have been watching comets in the sky for many thousands of years. Although many ancient cultures saw comets as signs of impending danger, today scientists know that comets are really frozen balls of dust, gas, and rock. They may have been responsible for delivering water to planets like Earth billions of years ago.

It may surprise people to hear that comets can provide information about other aspects of our Solar System. In particular, comets can be used as laboratories to study the behavior of the stream of particles flowing away from the Sun, known as the solar wind.

Recently, astronomers have performed such a study using observations with Chandra of two comets, named ISON and PanSTARRS. Chandra observed these two comets in 2013 when both were relatively close to Earth.

Scientists know that comets produce X-ray emission when particles in the solar wind strike the atmosphere of the comet. The Chandra data allowed scientists to estimate the amount of elements like carbon and nitrogen in the solar wind. They found values that agree with those from other missions, showing the value of X-ray observations for deriving the composition of the solar wind.
[Runtime: 02:21]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

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

Many people have heard of auroras, also called the 'northern lights', which are spectacular light shows that occur near Earth's poles. What might not be as well known is that other planets in our Solar System also experience auroras. Jupiter is one of them.

A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has shown that storms from the Sun are triggering auroras in X-ray light that are some eight times brighter than normal, covering a large area of Jupiter's surface. These Jovian auroras are hundreds of times more energetic than the auroras we have here on Earth.

These latest results represent the first time that Jupiter's auroras have been studied in X-ray light when a giant storm from the Sun arrives at the planet. The Sun constantly ejects streams of particles into space in the solar wind. Sometimes, giant storms erupt and the winds become much stronger. These events compress Jupiter's magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Jupiter's magnetic field, shifting its boundary with the solar wind inward by more than a million miles. This new study found that the interaction at the boundary triggers the X-rays in Jupiter's auroras, which cover an area bigger than the surface of the Earth.

The discovery comes as NASA's Juno spacecraft nears Jupiter for the start of its mission this summer. Launched in 2011, Juno aims to unlock the secrets of Jupiter's origin, helping scientists to better understand how the solar system, including Earth, formed. As part of the mission, Juno will investigate Jupiter's relationship with the Sun and the solar wind by studying its magnetic field, magnetosphere and aurora. To complement the work being done by Juno, the researchers on this latest study plan to find out how the X-rays form by collecting more data with Chandra as well as with ESA's XMM-Newton.
[Runtime: 02:08]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Learn About Solar System
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

One star, eight planets, and a myriad of moons, comets and asteroids. This is the Earth's local neighborhood, known as the Solar System.
Despite studying this system for centuries, astronomers still yearn to know much more.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is providing new insight in uncovering new mysteries about objects of all sizes and across distances throughout our Solar System.
See the Solar System through Chandra's eyes.
[Runtime: 01.31]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Click for high-resolution animation
5. The Solar System in a Whole New Light
QuicktimeMPEG With closed-captions (at YouTube)

One Star, eight planets, and a myriad of moons, comets, and asteroids. This is the Earth's local neighborhood known as the Solar System. Despite studying this system for centuries, astronomers still yearn to know much more. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is providing new insight and uncovering new mysteries about objects of all sizes and across distances throughout our Solary System.
[Runtime: 1.31]
(Animations: NASA, ESA/Hubble/M. Kornmesser & L.L. Christensen, NASA/GFSC/G. Shirah, J. Tucciarone. Production: NASA/CXC/K.K. Arcand & A. Hobart with thanks to SPL. Music: Move Two)

Click for high-resolution animation
6. From Earth to the Solar System Image Collection
QuicktimeMPEG With closed-captions (at YouTube)

The Solar System is much more than a collection of planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. It is our home in the cosmos. The Solar System's only star, which we call the Sun, plays a role in nearly every aspect of our cosmic neighborhood. The 8 planets, including Earth, all revolve around the Sun. No two planets are alike. There are hundreds of moons in our Solar System, many are intriguing worlds waiting to be explored. Comets are Solar System interlopers, bringing information from the very edge of the Solar System. Our Solar System resides in a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, where our Sun is one among billions of other stars. The search for evidence of life, past and maybe even present, is the study of astrobiology. From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) provides a few snapshots of the wonders contained within this unique system, the likes of which we have yet to discover anywhere else in the Universe. /fettss
[Runtime: 06:32]
(Production: NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Hobart & K.Arcand)

Click for high-resolution animation
7. New Horizons Path Past Jupiter
QuicktimeMPEG On February 28, 2007, the New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter on its ultimate journey toward Pluto. Its unusual trajectory took New Horizons down Jupiter's so-called magnetotail, or magnetic tail, a region where no spacecraft has gone before.
[Runtime: 0.13]

Related Chandra Images:

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8. Jupiter's Aurora Animation
QuicktimeMPEG Powerful auroras have been observed near the poles of Jupiter. These auroras are thought to be caused by the interaction of sulfur and oxygen ions in the outer regions of the Jovian magnetic field, some of which originates in Io's volcanoes, with particles flowing away from the Sun in the so-called solar wind.
[Runtime: 0.14]

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Scale Chandra Images to Full Moon
QuicktimeMPEG This survey, taken in a region of the Bootes constellation, involved 126 separate Chandra exposures of 5,000-seconds each, making it the largest contiguous field ever obtained by the observatory. At 9.3 square degrees, it is over 40 times larger than the full moon seen on the night sky, which is shown in this graphic for scale.
[Runtime: 0:12]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Hickox et al.; Moon: NASA/JPL)

Related Chandra Images:

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10. Alternative Without Optical Titan, Only the Shadow (unlabeled)
QuicktimeMPEG On January 5, 2003, Titan crossed in front of the Crab Nebula, blocking some of X-rays emitted by the Crab. This animation illustrates how Titan, one of Saturn's moons, casts an X-ray "shadow" on Chandra's detector as it passes between the Crab Nebula and Chandra. Although Titan passes within a few degrees of the Crab Nebula every 30 years, it rarely passes directly in front of it. This may have been the first transit of the Crab Nebula by Titan since the nebula was formed by a supernova that was observed to occur in the year 1054. The next similar conjunction will take place in the year 2267, so this was truly a once in a millennium event. The Crab Nebula image in the animation shows X-ray data in blue, optical in green, and radio in red.
[Runtime: 0:33]
(NASA/CXC/A.Hobart; Crab Nebula: X-ray: NASA/CXC/ASU/J.Hester et al.; Optical: NASA/HST/ASU/J.Hester et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Titan's Shadow: NASA/CXC/Penn State/K.Mori et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

Page 12