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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)


Cat's Eye Nebula in 60 Seconds

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Narrator (Megan Watzke, CXC): This composite of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope is another look for NGC 6543, better known as the Cat's Eye nebula. This famous object is a so-called planetary nebula that represents a phase of stellar evolution that the Sun should experience several billion years from now. When a star like the Sun begins to run out of fuel, it becomes what is known as a red giant. In this phase, a star sheds some of its outer layers. A fast wind streaming away from the hot core rams into the ejected atmosphere, pushing it outward, and creating the graceful filamentary structures seen with optical telescopes. In the case of the Cat's Eye, material shed by the star is flying away at a speed of about 4 million miles per hour. The hot core left behind will eventually collapse to form a dense white dwarf star.

Chandra's X-ray data of the Cat's Eye, which are seen as blue in this image, show that its central star is surrounded by a cloud of multi-million-degree gas. Structures in optical light by Hubble are colored red and purple. By comparing the two, astronomers determined that the chemical composition in the region around where the hot gas is found is like that of the wind from the central star, but it is different from the cooler outer material.

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