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Animations & Video: Space Scoop for Kids!
Page 1234
Click for high-resolution animation
1. Is the Sun Really a Giant Pokemon?
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Over the last few weeks Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. Visit the beach and you'll see dozens of people battling to catch water-type Pokémon like Magikarp or Krabby. Take a walk in the countryside and you'll find yourself surrounded by grass-type Caterpies.

But what type of Pokémon would you find in space?

While the Sun is obviously not a Pokémon, it actually has a lot in common with an electric-type Pokémon called Magneton. 'Discharge' and 'Zap Cannon' are two of Magneton's most powerful attacks.

Similarly, the Sun can create powerful storms capable of knocking out communication satellites and damaging electrical power systems on Earth!

These storms are caused by 'magnetic fields' on the Sun. A magnet (like those you can stick to your refrigerator) creates an invisible force field all around it, called a magnetic field. The Sun acts like a magnet. But how the Sun, and stars like the Sun, create their magnetic fields is a bit of a puzzle.

The inside of a star is made of layers. There's a zone where the star's energy moves outwards, and another where the energy circles up and down. Many scientists believe that stars' magnetic fields are produced in the area where these two layers meet.

However, stars much less massive than the Sun don't have both these layers, as you can see in the picture above. Yet a new study has just found that they still have magnetic fields similar to stars like the Sun!

It looks like our theory of magnetic fields needs to be re-examined!
[Runtime: 02:22]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. The Teeny Tiny Planet Destroyer
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

If you're a fan of science fiction, you'll have seen some pretty crazy things, up to time travel and the destruction of entire planets! We saw poor Spock's home planet Vulcan destroyed in Star Trek, and in Star Wars Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan was blown to smithereens.

Does the destruction of planets really happen in the Universe, or is this just science fiction?

Astronomers have recently discovered evidence that a planet may have been destroyed in our very own Galaxy. Even scarier, it appears to have been destroyed by a star that was once like our own Sun!

When a star like our Sun runs out of fuel to burn, its outer layers drift away into space, leaving just the very centre. For this star, and the Sun, that will be a ball about the size of Earth (over a million times smaller), which is hot, dense and really bright. This is called a white dwarf star.

It was a white dwarf star like this that ripped apart the planet. But how could such a teeny tiny star be responsible for such a violent act?

The answer is gravity. The gravity at the surface of a white dwarf is over 10,000 times higher than the gravity at the surface of the Sun.

One day, the planet appears to have strayed too close to the star and was ripped apart. Parts of it were then gobbled up by the white dwarf.
[Runtime: 01:59]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Not Your Average Superhero
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

A black hole is formed when a massive star is squashed into an incredibly tiny volume. (The equivalent of squeezing the Earth into the size of a marble!) Packing so much material in such a small space gives black holes a superpower: Incredibly strong gravity that can even swallow-up light forever if it gets too close!

Around the danger zone, before disappearing forever into the black hole, any nearby material is accelerated to very high speeds. This fast-moving material gives off X-rays, which astronomers can observe using special telescopes in space.

Of course, there should be a limit to even a superhero's powers. But in recent years, astronomers have discovered regions around black holes that are giving off a crazy amount of X-rays - a lot more than what should be possible. In the galaxy pictured above, which is called M83, astronomers have discovered such a weirdly powerful black hole.

Astronomers still don't fully understand what is making these black holes mega-powerful, but it could be that they are much heavier than normal black holes. A heavy black hole could pull in more material than a smaller black hole, which would make a lot more X-rays. Instead of being a few times heavier than the Sun, like normal black holes, the mega-powerful ones could be up to 100 times heavier!
[Runtime: 01:56]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M83

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Weather Forecast Predicts Rain Around Black Holes
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

On Earth, precipitation happens when water is heated by the Sun and forms steam (like the steam you see rises from a kettle as the water boils). The steam rises up into the air where it cools down, reforming into tiny droplets of water. These water droplets group together and create the clouds we see in the sky.

Sometimes, something similar happens in galaxies. Clouds of hot cosmic gas cool down, becoming clouds of cold cosmic gas instead. This is also called precipitation. Can you see how the two processes are similar?

However, while precipitation on Earth allows planets and animals to grow, precipitation actually stops the growth of galaxies. At least, it does if the galaxy has a giant black hole at its center.

This is because stars are born from cold clouds of cosmic gas. But in galaxies with central black holes, when a cloud cools down, it is an easier target for a black hole to capture and feed on.

As the black hole feeds it releases a hot jet of energy. The jet then re-heats any nearby clouds of cold gas before they have chance to form into stars.
[Runtime: 01:49]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Megaflares Shed Light On Our Black Hole
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Our Galaxy is shaped like a whirlpool, with long strips of cosmic gas and dust swirling around the center. And like a whirlpool, objects that float too close are dragged into the center never to be seen again.

The fate of these unfortunate objects is no mystery. Lurking in the dark at the heart of our Galaxy is gigantic, hungry monster - a supermassive black hole. Supermassive black holes are famous for their ability to swallow anything – even light! But they don't just eat; they sometimes spit too!

In late 2013, an outburst (what astronomers call 'flares') was spotted blasting from the center of our Galaxy. Like many flares, it was made up of high-energy X-rays. However, this particular outburst was 400 times brighter than the X-ray output normally seen coming from this black hole!

A little more than a year later, it let off another flare, this time it was 200 times brighter than usual.

Astronomers have two theories about what could be causing these so-called "megaflares". The first idea is that the black hole's strong gravity tore apart an asteroid that strayed too close. The debris was then heated to millions of degrees before being devoured.

The other possible explanation involves the strong magnetic fields around the black hole. If these magnetic fields wobbled somehow, it could cause a large burst of X-rays. In fact, such events are seen regularly on our own Sun, we call them solar flares.

The main part of this picture shows the area around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, called Sagittarius A* (pronounced as "SAJ-ee-TARE-ee-us A-star"). The small box shows a close up of the black hole and the giant flare from 2013.
[Runtime: 02:42]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. The Most Attractive Stars in the Universe
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Have you ever played with magnets? You might have done an experiment where you lay a magnet onto a table and place an iron nail nearby. If you push the magnet slowly toward the nail, there will come a point when the nail jumps across and sticks to the magnet. That's because magnets have something invisible that extends all around them, called a 'magnetic field'. It can cause a pushing or pulling force on other objects, even if the magnet isn't actually touching them.

The most powerful magnets in the Universe are called magnetars. These are tiny, super-compact stars, 50 times more massive than our Sun, squashed into a ball just 20 kilometers across. (That's about the size of a small city!)

Astronomers think magnetars may be created when some massive stars die in a supernova explosion. The star's gases blow out into space creating a colourful cloud like the one in this picture, called Kes 73. At the same time, the core of the star squashes down to form a magnetar.

At the center of the cosmic cloud in this photograph lies a tiny magnetar. But what this star lacks in size it makes up for in energy, shooting out powerful jets of X-rays every few seconds! You can see the X-ray jets in blue in this photograph.
[Runtime: 02:04]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Breaking Free From a Cosmic Cocoon
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

In movies, heroes and villains are thrown forward after an explosion. This is because a powerful wave of energy, called a shock wave, is released. In space, the same thing happens when a star explodes in what is called a supernova explosion.

The shock wave from the supernova is absorbed by the star's outer shells of gas and dust, which escaped from the star before the explosion. It heats the gas so that it gives off X-ray radiation, which astronomers can photograph using special telescopes in space.

Astronomers took two pictures of this glowing cloud of gas and dust, which were taken about a year apart. By comparing the two X-ray photos, astronomers think that the shock wave is finally escaping from the cloud. This is the first time that astronomers have X-ray evidence for a shock wave breaking free from its gassy and dusty cocoon!
[Runtime: 01:24]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Please Don't Stop the Music!
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Did you know that the sounds we hear on Earth are just vibrations of air? But that doesn't mean that space is an eerily silent place, just because there isn't any air out there. This is because air is a collection of gases, and there are clouds of gas in space that can vibrate and allow sound to travel too.

Okay, so we know how sound can travel in space, but what's making all of the noise? The answer is powerful objects that give off huge amounts of energy - enough to make the gases vibrate.

For example, in addition to gobbling up material, black holes also release powerful jets of energy. Astronomers already know that the black hole at the centre of a collection of galaxies called the Perseus Cluster is powerful enough to make a very deep sound.

"We thought that these very deep sounds might be found in galaxy clusters everywhere," says astronomer Ryan Foley. However, Ryan is a member of a team of astronomers who have recently observed a galaxy cluster called the Phoenix Cluster (shown in the photo above) that is practically totally silent. This means that either not all galaxy clusters produce sound, or that sometimes the music almost completely stops!
[Runtime: 01:47]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. At the End of the Rainbow
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

Looking up at the night sky, you might think that space is dull, with lots of black, some white dots and just a hint of red if you're lucky. But if we look deeper, space has a lot more to offer than what our eyes can see!

You've probably heard the phrase 'visible light'. This is what we call the range of colors that humans can see with their eyes. Visible light is just a tiny portion of all light. So astronomers have built special telescopes to see things that human eyes can't! For this picture, three telescopes were used and each picked up a different type of light.

This image shows a 'superbubble', a cloud of hot gas blown away from bright, young stars at its center. The superbubble has been captured with one of the telescopes in X-ray light, which has been colored blue. X-rays have a lot of energy, so when we look at the Universe in X-ray light, we see some of the hottest gas and most powerful explosions.

Infrared light is given off by much cooler objects than stars. For example, humans give off infrared light of our own! In this picture, infrared shows us the colder gas and dust of the superbubble, colored in red. This part of the picture was taken with the second telescope. The rest of the picture is yellow, showing us visible light. These are the parts of the image that we could see with our own eyes, if we were close enough, and if our eyes were sensitive enough!
[Runtime: 02:14]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Supernova Blast Provides Clues to Age of Binary Star System
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only With closed-captions (at YouTube)

If you've ever broken a bone, you'll know that X-rays are bad for humans. When doctors make an X-ray picture of a broken bone, they leave the room to avoid being hit by X-ray radiation every time. But the radiation you receive from an X-ray of your arm is 50 times less than the radiation we are blasted with every year from cosmic sources. Fortunately, our atmosphere blocks these X-rays so we're perfectly safe here on Earth.

Some of the most powerful sources of X-rays in the Universe are "X-ray binaries". These are made up of a normal star, like the Sun, and an ultra-compact type star called a "neutron star" or a black hole. As these two objects orbit one another, the neutron star's strong gravity pulls material off the companion star and onto it.

A new study of an X-ray binary called Circinus X-1 found that it is less than 4,600 years old! This makes it the youngest X-ray binary ever seen. Astronomers have detected hundreds of X-ray binaries throughout our Galaxy and others. But these older X-ray binaries only reveal information about what happens much later in the life of these systems. The new observations tell us new information about the stage just after the system forms.
[Runtime: 01:50]
(NASA/CXC/April Jubett)

Related Chandra Images:

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