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Solar System (Illustrations)

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1. Illlustration of Earth's Magnetosphere and Auroras
The hot gas in the outer layers of the Sun constantly rushes away as the solar wind. When the solar wind encounters Earth's magnetic field, it creates a swept-back cavity, called the magnetosphere. During solar storms the wind is intensified, large electric voltages are created in the magnetosphere and accelerate electrons to high energies. When these electrons spiral along the magnetic field into Earth's polar regions they collide with atoms high in the atmosphere and produce auroras. (Illlustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Illustration of Crab, Titan's Shadow and Chandra
2. Illustration of Crab, Titan's Shadow and Chandra
In very rare instances, an object such as a planet or satellite of a planet will move in front of, or transit an extended cosmic X-ray source, such as the Crab Nebula. Under these circumstances, an X-ray shadow of the planet or satellite can be imaged by Chandra. This happened in January of 2003 when Titan - Saturn's largest moon and the only moon in the Solar System with a thick atmosphere - passed directly in front of the Crab Nebula. By using Chandra to capture an image of the X-ray shadow cast by Titan, astronomers were able to make the first X-ray measurement of the extent of its atmosphere. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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3. Still Images of Titan's Transit of the Crab Nebula
On January 5, 2003, Titan crossed in front of the Crab Nebula, blocking some of X-rays emitted by the Crab. These still illustrations show how the event might look from the point of view of an observer watching the Chandra ACIS detector during the transit. This observer would not, of course, see the optical image of Titan, which is shown for reference. 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.
(Illustrations: 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 Field Guide: X-Rays - Another Form of Light

solar_system_illSolar System
solar_system_illSolar System (Labeled)
solar_system_illSolar System (Labeled, 24" x 18") This large-scale labeled version will print a 24" x 18" poster.
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solar_system_illMercury
solar_system_illVenus
solar_system_illEarth
solar_system_illMars
solar_system_illJupiter

solar_system_illSaturn
solar_system_illUranus
solar_system_illNeptune
solar_system_illPluto
4. Illustrations of Objects from Our Solar System
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. Chandra is providing new insight and uncovering new mysteries about objects of all sizes and across all distances throughout our Solar Sytem. (Planets not to scale).
(Illustrations: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Solar System Field Guide

Illustration of Comet-Shoemaker-Levy
5. Illustration of Comet-Shoemaker-Levy
Collision with Jupiter

This illustration shows the first piece of the remains of Comet Shoemaker/Levy crashing into Jupiter. This event occurred in 1994 after tidal forces from Jupiter caused the comet to break up into 21 separate pieces. Although on a very different scale, the physical mechanism for the breakup of Shoemaker/Levy also caused the tidal disruption of the star in RX J1242-11. (Illustration: JPL/D. Seal (edited by CXC/M.Weiss))

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jupiter_aurora
6. Schematic of Jupiter's Auroral Activity Production
This schematic illustrates how Jupiter's unusually frequent and spectacular auroral activity is produced. Jupiter's strong, rapidly rotating magnetic field (light blue lines) generates strong electric fields in the space around the planet. Particles (white dots) from Jupiter's volcanically active moon, Io, drift outward to create a huge reservoir of electrons and ions. These charged particles, trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field, are continually being accelerated (gold particles) down into the atmosphere above the polar regions, so auroras are almost always active on Jupiter.
(Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Illustration of Saturn's Rings
7. Illustration of Saturn's Rings
This illustration shows a close-up of Saturn's rings. These rings are thought to have formed from material that was unable to form into a Moon because of tidal forces from Saturn, or from a Moon that was broken up by Saturn's tidal forces.
(Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Image of Pele erupting on Io
8. Image of Pele erupting on Io
Jupiter's moon Io is the most geologically active body in the solar system today and provides the most extreme example of the effect of tidal forces. Io is being pulled by massive Jupiter on one side and by the outer moons (Europa, Callisto, Ganymede) on the other. The opposing tidal forces alternately squeeze and stretch its interior, causing the solid surface to rise and fall by about 100 meters. The enormous amount of heat and pressure generated by the resulting friction creates colossal volcanoes and fractures on the surface of this moon.
(Credit: NASA/USGS)

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Moon Illustration
9. Moon Illustration
When observing the Moon or other objects, Chandra must look through the Earth's geocorona. Collisions of particles from the Sun with atoms in the geocorona produce a faint background of X-rays. This artist's illustration shows the approximate configuration when Chandra observed the Moon in 2001 [not to scale].
(Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Solar Wind
10. Solar Wind
The white lines represent the solar wind; the purple line is the bow shock produced by the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's protective magnetosphere (blue lines). Image not to scale.
(Illustration: NASA/SOHO)

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Sun, Earth, Mars
11. Sun, Earth, Mars
This schematic depicts the relative positions of the Sun, Earth and Mars at the time of the observation on July 4, 2001. Chandra was scheduled to observe Mars when it was only 70 million kilometers from Earth, and also near the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun. (Not to scale)
(Schematic: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Schematic showing comet LINEAR orbit.
12. Schematic showing comet LINEAR orbit.
Comet LINEAR was discovered on September 27, 1999. Its closest approach to Earth occurred July 23, 2000 at a distance of 35 million miles. Its closest approach to the Sun occurred July 26, 2000 at a distance of 71 million miles. LINEAR is an acronym meaning Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research.
(Illustration: Larry Koehn)

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13. Illustration of Solar System's Orbit
Our solar system, containing the Sun and the planets, is about 2/3 of the way out from the center of the Galaxy. The solar system travels in an orbit around the center of the Galaxy, at a velocity (i.e. speed) of a few hundred kilometers per second, completing one orbit around the center of the Milky Way about every 230 million years. In addition, the solar system is moving at about 20 kilometers per second with respect to the nearby stars. There is also a small amount of motion with respect to the plane of the Galaxy. Currently, the solar system is heading outwards but the gravitational pull of the stars in the galactic plane will eventually cause it to stop and then move back towards the galactic plane.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)


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