IWD 2011 on the Chandra Blog

March 8th is International Women's Day (http://www.internationalwomensday.com/), an effort to mark the economic, political, and social achievement of women. From here at the Chandra blog, we'd like to extend that concept to include scientific achievements as well by highlighting our "Women in the High-Energy Universe" (http://chandra.harvard.edu/blog/taxonomy/term/19) series.

Coming Soon: From Earth to the Solar System

Some of our regular blog readers might be familiar with a project called “From Earth to the Universe,” or FETTU for short. FETTU was originally cast as a project for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, but also has grown beyond that single designation. In a nutshell, FETTU puts astronomical images in public spaces like parks, metro stations, and art centers – basically any place you might not expect to run into them.

FETTU in downtown Oslo, Norway (Credit: H. Dahle)

Sizing Up Stars

Lately, we’ve been noticing some great new videos that are covering some basic – yet hard-to-understand – concepts in astronomy. Here’s one we recently saw, featured on “Astronomy Picture of the Day,” that we thought was worth noting: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110222.html

Scale screen shot

Star Size Comparisons (Click the image to launch the video at YouTube)

Chandra Finds Superfluid in Neutron Star's Core

Cas A

This composite image shows a beautiful X-ray and optical view of Cassiopeia A (Cas A), a supernova remnant located in our Galaxy about 11,000 light years away. These are the remains of a massive star that exploded about 330 years ago, as measured in Earth's time frame. X-rays from Chandra are shown in red, green and blue along with optical data from Hubble in gold.

Math + Science = Fun

When I was a kid, my class was given ‘word problems’ for an alternative math lesson. You probably know the kind: two different trains traveling at different speeds, which one gets there first, etc. While these were possibly a little out of the norm, they didn’t quite excite the inner astronomer in me. Now, the folks at "Space Math @ NASA" have put together a comprehensive set of math activities for astrophiles of any age (or at least grades 3 and up).

Chandra at the 2010 Folklife Festival

The 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival wrapped up earlier this month on the National Mall in Washington, DC. This year, the Festival included the themes of the Smithsonian’s new Strategic Plan . Of course, Chandra and its role at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory fit squarely into the goals of the “Mysteries of the Universe” theme. Therefore, it was very exciting for us to have a presence during this giant event.

4C+00.58: Black Hole Jerked Around Twice

4C0058 in X-ray, Radio and Optical
4C+00.58 is a galaxy harboring a giant black hole about 780 million light years away.

Image Processor for a Day

The openFITS project represents a step towards removing some of the mystery surrounding image processing of the X-ray data from the Chandra Observatory. As the Science Imager for Chandra, I'm often asked if astronomical objects appear in optical images as they would if we could somehow fly to these objects and view them with our own eyes. Of course, this is usually asked in relation to optical images, such as those from Hubble, because human eyes cannot actually see X-rays!

Here Comes the Sun

Ok, I know this is not an original title for a blog about the sun and certainly not for the new solar cycle. Hey, I am an astronomer, not a writer. Like most science, my work on the Sun is partially something I fell into. My job on the Chandra science team is Monitoring and Trends Scientist. This means that it is my job to watch the spacecraft and make sure nothing is going to go wrong. To be honest, there are a whole bunch of engineers who have the same job for a specific part of the spacecraft and a chief engineer who monitors the whole spacecraft.

Black Hole Blows Big Bubble

NGC 7793

Combined data from Chandra (red, green, and blue) as well as optical light (light blue) and hydrogen emission (gold) reveals a “microquasar” in the galaxy NGC 7793. This system contains a stellar-mass black hole that is being fed by a companion star, shown in X-rays in the upper inset. Material falling onto the black hole is blowing outward via two powerful jets that plow into the surrounding gas and heat it. The lower inset shows the nebula that is being illuminated by the output from these jets.

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