This artist's illustration shows an enormous halo of hot gas (in blue) around the Milky Way galaxy. Also shown, to the lower left of the Milky Way, are the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, two small neighboring galaxies (roll your mouse over the image for labels). The halo of gas is shown with a radius of about 300,000 light years, although it may extend significantly further.
In July 2012, an event took place that gives us a chance to talk about several important aspects of Chandra observations involving coordination with other observatories, how they are done, and how they fit into the bigger picture of astronomical research.
Coordinated observations are those that must be done by Chandra and one or more other observatories at approximately the same time. Astronomers often want to study objects with multiple observatories because their different capabilities --- especially in detecting different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum --- can provide insight that no single observatory can do alone. The need for coordination in time comes because so many objects in space vary over time. That means that observations taken too far apart could be less valuable because the object has changed substantially in the meantime. It's often important for all observatories involved to catch the object during a particular celestial event. In the current annual cycle, Chandra's 13th , for example, about 10% of the approved observations request coordination with another observatory.
In 1604, a new star appeared in the night sky that was much brighter than Jupiter and dimmed over several weeks. This event was witnessed by sky watchers including the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. Centuries later, the debris from this exploded star is known as the Kepler supernova remnant.
Astronomers have long studied the Kepler supernova remnant and tried to determine exactly what happened when the star exploded to create it. New analysis of a long observation from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is providing more clues. This analysis suggests that the supernova explosion was not only more powerful, but might have also occurred at a greater distance, than previously thought.
This week marks the return to school for most kids (if they haven't been there for a week or more already). The post-Labor Day week got us thinking about school and education as it relates to Chandra and X-ray astrophysics.
Over the years, we've gotten questions submitted to the website that ask about what types of things should people study to become an astronomer like this one:
This composite image shows a superbubble in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, located about 160,000 light years from Earth. Many new stars, some of them very massive, are forming in the star cluster NGC 1929, which is embedded in the nebula N44. The massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. The winds and supernova shock waves carve out huge cavities called superbubbles in the surrounding gas. X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) show hot regions created by these winds and shocks, while infrared data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (red) outline where the dust and cooler gas are found. The optical light from the 2.2m Max-Planck-ESO telescope (yellow) in Chile shows where ultraviolet radiation from hot, young stars is causing gas in the nebula to glow.
Today marks the launch of a new project – both physically and virtually. We are so happy to announce that "Here, There, and Everywhere" (known by the acronym of HTE) has officially debuted.
You may have heard this question, or asked it yourself: why bother studying things that are millions or billions of miles away in space? HTE, among other things, is a project that addresses that question.
For more background about the Phoenix Cluster, including how it was discovered and the meaning of its adopted name, we have interviewed the first author Michael McDonald. Michael has recently started a Hubble postdoctoral Fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received Bachelor degrees and a Masters of Science from Queen’s University in Canada, and a PhD from the University of Maryland.
Following the success of our first poetry competition last year, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Jonathan Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, have now run a second competition, in which Creative Writing students at De Montfort University in the U.K. were invited to write poems inspired by some of Chandra's findings. The final two entries of the four winning pieces are included here. Congratulations to all four winners.
Want more astropoetry? See these previous pieces.
Pat Slane, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is a very busy guy. In addition to being the head of Chandra's Mission Planning group, he also conducts his own independent research into the study of supernova remnants and neutron stars (the aftermath of the massive stars that have exploded.) He also takes the time to participate in outreach, including heading up the "Stop for Science" project. Despite his hectic schedule, Pat sat down with the Chandra blog to discuss how he got where he is today in his career.
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