When I was a kid, my class was given ‘word problems’ for an alternative math lesson. You probably know the kind: two different trains traveling at different speeds, which one gets there first, etc. While these were possibly a little out of the norm, they didn’t quite excite the inner astronomer in me. Now, the folks at "Space Math @ NASA" have put together a comprehensive set of math activities for astrophiles of any age (or at least grades 3 and up).
Just in time for Valentine's Day comes a new image of a ring -- not of jewels -- but of black holes. This composite image of Arp 147, a pair of interacting galaxies located about 430 million light years from Earth, shows X-rays from the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) and optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue) produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.
Arp 147 contains the remnant of a spiral galaxy (right) that collided with the elliptical galaxy on the left. This collision has produced an expanding wave of star formation that shows up as a blue ring containing in abundance of massive young stars. These stars race through their evolution in a few million years or less and explode as supernovas, leaving behind neutron stars and black holes.
Every so often, our talented team gets to play with other colors in the crayon box -- that is, wavelengths outside the regime that Chandra observes. We do this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that something great usually happens.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger Space Shuttle. For many of us, it was an unforgettable moment when we heard the news. It might have been the first time that many of us of a certain generation realized that flying into space wasn’t easy, nor was it always safe.
Space Shuttle Columbia rockets into the night sky on mission STS-93
Melissa Weiss has been a graphic designer for the Chandra project for over a decade. Her work can be seen throughout Chandra's website as well as its print and multimedia products for students, teachers and the public.
I have to be honest, my career in astronomy happened organically. Part of me wants to say that, as a child, I always looked up at the stars and dreamed of what lay with them. But the reality is that my interests weren't really up with the stars, but down on canvas with paints, pens, and any other tool I could be creative with. Art has always been my passion.
A new Chandra X-ray Observatory image of Messier 82, or M82, shows the result of star formation on overdrive. M82 is located about 12 million light years from Earth and is the nearest place to us where the conditions are similar to those when the Universe was much younger with lots of stars forming.
M82 is a so-called starburst galaxy, where stars are forming at rates that are tens or even hundreds of times higher than in a normal galaxy. The burst of star birth may be caused by a close encounter or collision with another galaxy, which sends shock waves rushing through the galaxy. In the case of M82, astronomers think that a brush with its neighbor galaxy M81 millions of years ago set off this torrent of star formation.
This optical and infrared image from the Digitized Sky Survey shows the crowded field around the binary system GRS 1915+105 (GRS 1915 for short) located near the plane of our Galaxy. The top-left inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image of GRS 1915 , and the bottom-right inset shows the remarkable "heartbeats" seen in the X-ray light from this system. Using Chandra and the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), astronomers have discovered what drives these heartbeats and given new insight into the ways that black holes can regulate their intake and severely curtail their growth.
Today is the first official day of the American Astronomical Society meeting here in Seattle (Twitter user? The hashtag is #aas217). Right now, scientists are announcing the first rocky planet found by NASA's Kepler mission. Later on, there will be a black hole press conference -- including Chandra data! -- and then news from Fermi on the gamma-ray sky. While this news is being announced, here is a little behind-the-scenes information on this process.
The combined observations from multiple telescopes of Henize 2-10, a dwarf starburst galaxy located about 30 million light years from Earth, has provided astronomers with a detailed new look at how galaxy and black hole formation may have occured in the early Universe. This image shows optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green and blue, X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple, and radio data from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array in yellow. A compact X-ray source at the center of the galaxy coincides with a radio source, giving evidence for an actively growing supermassive black hole with a mass of about one million times that of the Sun.
What constitutes 'fun' for astronomers? Well, besides getting new data and results, it might be *talking* about their new data and results. A lot of astronomers will get a chance to do this next week at the twice-annual American Astronomical Society meeting. This one is happening in Seattle, WA, where, in addition to rain, many new and exciting discoveries are expected. Chandra will have new stories coming out on Wednesday and Thursday so keep an eye open for those here. We'll be posting more information as we go, but in the meantime, here's an official announcement about next week's meeting:
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