Hunting For the Most Distant Galaxy Cluster

Aug
30
Tao Wang
Tao Wang

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Tao Wang as a guest blogger. Tao is the first author of a paper that is the subject of our latest press release, about an extremely distant galaxy cluster. Tao is now a postdoc in CEA/Saclay, France, working with Dr. David Elbaz on high-redshift galaxies and galaxy clusters, and received a PhD in astrophysics from Nanjing University, China in 2012. During his PhD, he worked for two years in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and then worked as an associate researcher back in Nanjing University for one year before starting his postdoctoral work at CEA/Saclay in 2013.

Galaxy clusters are the largest known gravitationally bound structures in the universe and usually consist of hundreds of galaxies distributed in a relatively small area a few million light-years across. One of the most prominent features of clusters is the presence of a predominant population of massive, elliptical galaxies in the cluster core. These galaxies are among the most massive galaxies in the universe and are believed to have rapidly formed their stars a long time ago. However, how these galaxies formed and why have they stopped forming new stars remain mysteries. Solving these mysteries is essential to our understanding of both galaxy and cluster formation. To answer these questions, the key is to search for and study galaxy clusters (or their progenitors) in the early universe, right when they form.

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Record-breaking Galaxy Cluster Discovered

Aug
30

CL J1001
This image contains the most distant galaxy cluster, a discovery made using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other telescopes. The galaxy cluster, known as CL J1001+0220, is located about 11.1 billion light years from Earth and may have been caught right after birth, a brief, but important stage of cluster evolution never seen before.

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Modeling, Mapping and Made with Code: Two Summer Internships at the Chandra Operations Control Center

Aug
24

We are very pleased to welcome two special guest contributors to the Chandra blog. Amy Nuccitelli and Jonathan Brande both spent the summer of 2016 working as interns with the Chandra X-ray Observatory team at its Operations Control Center. Amy Nuccitelli will enter her junior year as a mathematics major at James Madison University in Harrison, VA, while Jonathan is pursuing a major in astronomy and a minor in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park. We thank Amy and Jonathan both for their hard work on the Chandra mission and also for taking the time to share their experiences with the Chandra bog.

Jonathan Brande and Amy Nuccitelli
Jonathan Brande and Amy Nuccitelli
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Poetry and Black Holes

Aug
19

We welcome back Jonathan Taylor as a guest blogger. Jonathan is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, UK, along with an author and critic. He has written several poems for us in the past: “Black Hole in B-flat”, “History Lesson” and “!!**&@??”. He has also organized poetry competitions among his students, in blog posts here, here, here, here and here.

I was fascinated by Chandra’s press release of 27 June 2016, ‘Clandestine Black Hole May Represent New Population.’ The very title of the press release sounds ‘poetic,’ in the idea of ‘Clandestine’ – a concealed or secretive – Black Hole; and the findings described in the press release are even more so: having concluded that “a peculiar source of radio waves thought to be a distant galaxy is actually a nearby binary star system containing a low-mass star and a black hole,” astronomers have suggested that “there may be a vast number of black holes in our Galaxy that have gone unnoticed until now .... Because this study only covered a very small patch of sky, the implication is that there should be many of these quiet black holes around the Milky Way. The estimates are that tens of thousands to millions of these black holes could exist within our Galaxy, about three to thousands of times as many as previous studies have suggested.”

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Supernova Ejected from the Pages of History

Aug
17

G11.2-0.3
A new look at the debris from an exploded star in our galaxy has astronomers re-examining when the supernova actually happened. Recent observations of the supernova remnant called G11.2-0.3 with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have stripped away its connection to an event recorded by the Chinese in 386 CE.

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A Black Hole Story Told by a Cosmic Blob and Bubble

Aug
09

IC 2497
Two cosmic structures show evidence for a remarkable change in behavior of a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy. Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, astronomers are piecing together clues from a cosmic “blob” and a gas bubble that could be a new way to probe the past activity of a giant black hole and its effect on its host galaxy.

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF ‘ASTROLYMPICS’

Aug
02
Astrolympics Title Banner

On August 5th, the 2016 Olympic Summer Games will begin with the Opening Ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A new project from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and its Communications group takes a look at the amazing feats performed by Olympic athletes and tries to provide context for them in an innovative way.

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Taking a Supernova into the Third Dimension

Aug
01
Cassiopeia A
3D Supernova Remnant. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO

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The 'Astrolympics' Open in Time for Summer Games

Jul
27

Astrolympics

With the Olympic Games in Rio nearly ready to begin, an innovative project blending science and sports is being unveiled. “AstrOlympics” relates the amazing feats of Olympic athletes with the spectacular phenomena found throughout space.

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The Secrets of the Sun Revealed in the Stars

Jul
26

We are pleased to welcome Nick Wright as our guest blogger. Nick is the lead author on a paper featured in our latest press release, about how magnetic fields are generated in stars. He is an astrophysicist working at Keele University in the UK. He completed his PhD at University College London before moving to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to study X-ray emission from both young and old stars. After almost 5 years working in the US he returned to England as a Royal Astronomical Society research fellow at the University of Hertfordshire and is now an Ernest Rutherford Fellow at Keele University. When not studying the stars or writing about them on his blog, Nick enjoys cooking, gardening and travelling.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright Credit: Nick Wright


Magnetic fields in the Sun and Sun-like stars are generated by a dynamo, a process involving the rotation of the star as well as convection, the rising and falling of hot gas in the star's interior. Understanding the magnetic dynamo of our Sun is important because it is responsible for a lot of interesting and energetic solar phenomena, some of which can have a considerable impact on our Earth and the wider Solar System. The Sun's magnetic field is responsible for sunspots on its surface, the 22-year magnetic activity cycle (the "Solar cycle"), the Solar wind that pummels planets throughout our Solar System and the ejections of large quantities of plasma – a gas composed of free electrons and free atomic nuclei – known as coronal mass ejections. This ejected material can have a serious impact on Earth, resulting in geomagnetic storms that disrupt radio transmissions, damage satellites and electrical grids, as well as harm astronauts or even people flying in airplanes at high altitudes.

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