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Q&A: X-ray Astronomy

Q:
Has Chandra been able to improve our knowledge about the total amount of radiation emitted by neutron stars, such as the one at the center of the Crab Nebula, and in particular the amount of radiant energy which now reaches the upper levels of the Earth's atmosphere from such sources as Chandra has observed in the X-ray range?

A:
Papers are due out soon on the spectrum and intensity of the Crab Nebula pulsar, but he greatest effect of a nearby supernova-like event would probably be due to a gamma-ray burst. These events, which may be due to the explosion of an extremely massive star (hypernova), release an enormous amount of energy in X rays and gamma rays. Chandra has observed two or three of these events in distant galaxies, but the results have not been published. In a few months, some information may be available. Keep an eye on http://xxx.lanl.gov/form/astro-ph?MULTI=form+interface

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