The Universe is yours to discover. The following materials are accessible to blind and visually impaired participants using a combination of Braille, tactile techniques, and descriptions in both large format text and audio formats, as well as a collection of 3D prints of cosmic objects.
Whether we are feeling the warmth from our closest star, the Sun, during the day, or learning about the majestic array of planets, stars, and galaxies in the greater Universe, the sky connects us all. With this kit of activities, we invite you to explore aspects of your Universe with us.
The Touchable Universe kit contains five 3D prints created from NASA data including three models from Chandra: Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (which also uses NASA infrared and ground-based optical data), Supernova 1987a, and the double star system and nova V745 SCO; as well as two models from Hubble and other data: Eta Carina, a bright star system, and the star-formation region known commonly as the Pillars of Creation.
Here's what you'll find inside:
• Five 3D prints:
-Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A
-Double Star System and Nova V745 SCO
-Pillars of Creation (also known as the Eagle Nebula).
• Audio files with descriptions for each of the 5 3D-printed objects included.
• A tactile and Braille poster series mounted on still styrene that cover science topics of eruptions, shadows, wind, erosion, outflows, seeding and spirals.
• Audio files of the text from the Braille panels.
Despite our limited abilities to travel to distant objects in outer space that can be thousands of light years — if not millions or billions of light years away — astronomers, computer scientists, and other specialists are developing 3D models of the stars with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. The 3D modeling and printing of objects in our Universe offer unique tools to understanding scientific data.
The following selection highlights some of the objects that we can 3D print and touch thanks to these scientific and technological advances:
For decades, astronomers have known about irregular outbursts from the double star system V745 Sco. V745 Sco consists of a red giant star and a white dwarf locked together by gravity. These two stellar objects orbit so closely around one another that the outer layers of the red giant are pulled away by the intense gravitational force of the white dwarf. This material gradually falls onto the surface of the white dwarf. Over time, enough material can accumulate on the white dwarf to trigger a colossal thermonuclear explosion. In this model, the blast wave is smooth, and the mass ejected by the explosion is textured and bumpy.
On February 23, 1987, astronomers noticed a new source of light in the Large Magellanic Cloud,, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. Scientists realized that this new beacon was, in fact, an explosion caused by the death of a massive star. It was a supernova, and became known as Supernova 1987A, or SN87A for short.
This 3D print maps the SN87A supernova remnant at its current observed age of 30 years. The blast wave from the supernova has crashed into a pre-existing ring of gas, throwing blobs of this gas upwards and downwards.
The Cassiopeia A supernova remnant was created when a massive star ran out of fuel and exploded, hurtling its outer layers into space at millions of miles per hour. The 3D model maps its two main features: a spherical component in the outer parts of the remnant and a flattened (disk-like) one in the inner region. The spherical piece reveals the outer layer of the star that exploded and drove a spherical blast wave into gas surrounding the star. The flattened component consists of the inner layers of the star. High-velocity jets of this material are shooting out from the explosion in multiple directions.
Chandra X-ray Observatory podcasts
The most recent cutting-edge discoveries and updates from NASA’s Chandra mission in audio formats. New podcasts are produced approximately every 2-3 weeks.
A Universe of Notes
This audio explanation of the electromagnetic spectrum makes an analogy between sound and light.
The Eclipse Soundscapes’ app features an interactive "rumble map," which uses a smartphone's touch screen and vibrational feedback to demonstrate the physical qualities of an eclipse. The rumble map displays photos of the eclipse at various stages. When users touch the image, the app reads the greyscale value of a pixel underneath their finger, and vibrates the phone with a strength relative to the brightness of the section. Download the app at http://eclipsesoundscapes.org/download.
Celestial objects as they appear through visible-light telescopes and in different spectral regions that are invisible to the naked eye. The posters use a combination of Braille and large-format traditional text, and a variety of tactile textures and symbols.
From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS)
FETTSS is a collection of images that showcase the excitement of planetary exploration. A tactile and Braille all-weather poster series mounted on still styrene provides additional connections with the FETTSS materials. There are 8 images for this series.
Here, There & Everywhere (HTE)
A tactile and Braille poster series mounted on still styrene helps to provide connections with HTE materials. The topics covered in the HTE Braille/tactile poster series include eruptions, shadows, wind, erosion, outflows, seeding and spirals.
Audio files of the text from the Braille panels are also provided to accompany the poster sets. Request a copy of any of these poster sets from Kim Arcand (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All photos on the page, credit: NASA/CXC
Developed by the Chandra X-ray Center, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Cambridge, MA, with funding by NASA under contract NAS8-03060