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Tour: Chandra Discoveries in 3D Available on New Platform

A collection of the 3D objects from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is now available on a new platform from the Smithsonian Institution. This will allow greater access to these unique 3D models and prints for institutions like libraries and museums as well as the scientific community and individuals in the public.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has a special relationship with the Smithsonian because it is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Massachusetts. Chandra's 3D datasets are now included in Voyager, a platform developed by the Smithsonian to enable datasets to be used as tools for learning and discovery. Viewers can explore these fascinating 3D representations of objects in space alongside a statue of George Washington or a skeleton of an extinct mammoth.

The only requirement to access these 3D models is a smartphone, tablet, or computer that has a current web browser. The Voyager platform let users manipulate 3D data, explore through augmented reality, or download of 3D printable files. There are also additional levels of information and interaction for the Chandra 3D models, including annotated tours pointing out key features on each cosmic object.

The current suite of Chandra 3D models in Voyager features stars in various phases of the stellar life cycle. Through a variety of techniques, astronomers have captured data from Chandra and other telescopes from these stars and constructed science-based simulations and 3D models of what previously had been represented as flat, two-dimensional projections on the sky.

The inclusion of the Chandra collection in Voyager coincides with the release of Chandra's latest 3D model: a stunning supernova remnant — that is, the remains of an exploded star — called IC 443 located about 5,000 light-years from Earth. There are several versions of this 3D model of IC 443. In one developed by scientists, we can see the shock wave and the remains of the star have collided with the gas cloud and are now passing through it.

In another version that has been optimized for virtual reality environments, a view can explore the blast wave of the explosion as well as the outer layers of the star. Chandra's data of the nebula of particles and energy around the neutron star is found at the center of this version.

IC 443 joins other supernova remnants such as Cassiopeia A, Tycho, and the Crab Nebula in the Chandra contribution to the Voyager platform. Other stages of stellar evolution, as well as the Chandra spacecraft itself, are also available in the Chandra contribution to the Voyager platform. before.

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