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Recent Podcast
Space Scoop: Sweeping Supernovas
Space Scoop: Sweeping Supernovas
This space photograph shows a supernova remnant that is sweeping up a remarkable amount of material. (2014-04-16)


Chandra in the (Google) Sky

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NASA:We have booster ignition and liftoff of Columbia, reaching new heights for women and X-ray Astronomy.

Martin Elvis: The main thing Chandra does is take these superb, sharp images.

Narrator: Astronomy is truly in a golden age. With a fleet of space-based observatories, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers now have a suite of amazing tools to study the Universe. Simultaneously to this bonanza in astronomy has been the growth and expansion of the Internet. Think back to before 1990. The Internet was barely a rumor and there were no Great Observatories! But now people are taking advantage of these two seemingly separate advances to do some amazing things.

Radio galaxies are the 10% of active galaxies that emit very bright radio emission. Radio emission comes out in the form of a collimated, relativistic jet. Now radio galaxies are really important for the Universe as a whole because they act as energy-carrying channels. They transfer energy from the black hole radius on which they're created out to really, really big distances, distances perhaps in excess of 300-400 million light years. So you can see that radio galaxies actually have a cosmological importance. By transporting the energy out to these vast distances, they affect their environments and they affect the Universe as a whole.

The Sky in Google Earth is one project that combines the best of modern astronomy with new tools of the electronic age. Initially launched in August 2007, Sky in Google Earth has been used by millions of people. In its first incarnation, Sky featured the spectacular images of the Hubble Space Telescope. With the new version that was released in January of 2008, the public can more fully tour the majesty of the Universe. In addition to X-ray images from Chandra, the new Sky in Google Earth now contains infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the IRAS satellite. Users can also fly to ultraviolet images from the GALEX mission and a microwave map of the sky taken by WMAP.

Now, let's explore the new Chandra layer that is comes standard whenever Google Sky is downloaded.

The Chandra layer is divided into three different categories. The first is "Supernovas," which, as you may know, are the debris fields from exploded stars. You can fly to such famous objects as the Crab Nebula. By clicking through the different layers, you can see how different the Crab looks in the X-ray compared to the infrared or optical view. Or you can take a closer look at Cassiopeia A. This magnificent object is the remains of a massive star that exploded about 300 years ago.

Another category you can explore is galaxies. Spectacular images of Abell 520, Centaurus A, and more can be seen. A user can explore them as multi-wavelength composites, or simply investigate the X-ray data from Chandra.

Finally, the public can visit stars and nebula in Google Sky in ways they've never been able to before. This category is another example of how much more can be seen when we are able to look beyond just the visible light.

So the latest in astronomy can be explored by using some of the latest in technology. Sky in Google Earth now allows everyone to see these spectacular images in context and gives a chance to learn more about these objects. Undoubtedly, there will be more ways for the public to enjoy the amazing results produced by the current array of astronomical tools in the near future. In the meantime, we are thrilled that Chandra is part of the Sky in Google Earth and we hope you enjoy it.

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