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Recent Podcast
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, we have released four new images of supernova remnants. These show Chandra's ability to study the remains of supernova explosions, using images that are the sharpest available in X-ray astronomy. The images of the Tycho and G292.0+1.8 supernova remnants show how Chandra can trace the expanding debris of an exploded star. The images show shock waves, similar to sonic booms from a supersonic plane, that travel through space at speeds of millions of miles per hour. The images of the Crab Nebula and 3C58 show the effects of very dense, rapidly spinning neutron stars created when a massive star explodes. These neutron stars can create clouds of high-energy particles that glow brightly in X-rays. The image for G292 shows oxygen (yellow and orange), and other elements such as magnesium (green) and silicon and sulfur (blue) that were forged in the star before it exploded. For the other images, the lower energy X-rays are shown in red and green and the highest energy X-rays are shown in blue. (2014-07-22)

Video Podcasts: The Incredible Two-Inch Universe

Step 4: The Realm of Galaxies

Now let's switch scales one last time, and shrink the entire continent-sized galaxy down to 2 inches:
  • Size of Sun and Stars - Individual stars are invisible, smaller than atoms, at this 2-inch scale. The bright specks in this galaxy image come from the added light of thousands of stars.
  • Location of Sun - 1/2 inch (about 1 cm) from edge of 2-inch galaxy image
  • Distance to Andromeda Galaxy, the Nearest Spiral - 5 feet (1.5 m) at this scale - hold the two galaxy images apart with your arms spread wide.
  • Distance to Farthest Galaxies Observed by Hubble Telescope - 4 miles (6.5 km). In the Hubble image of the "Ultra Deep Field" almost all the fuzzy spots of light are distant galaxies. Because light takes time to travel through space, we see the farthest of these not as they are now, but as they were 12 billion years ago.
  • Size of the Whole Universe? - No one could be infinite.
  • Light Travel Time - It would take 100,000 years for a beam of light to cross our galaxy and 2.5 million years for light to travel from the Andromeda Galaxy to us.
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