A GPS System for Cosmic Images

May
26

Imagine getting a picture of some random patch of the Earth. This picture has some features on it - maybe a mountain or a river or even a city - but from the altitude it was taken, you can't be exactly sure what's what. And then imagine if someone asked you to place it exactly where it should lie on the Earth. Really hard, right?
Google Earth
It's New Hampshire - USA

Well, of course, it gets a lot easier if someone were to give you the exact longitude and latitude. While this seems like an obvious thing to do, it's not so simple for astronomical images. When astronomers create their images for scientific purposes, these images retain certain coordinate information - like longitude and latitude - but for space. Unfortunately, when these images get processed further to make them attractive for the public, this information gets stripped out. In other words, we're back to having no clue where this image matches up with anything else.

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Carnival of Space

May
18

Many of this week's blogs focused on that little-known telescope that's being invaded by a spaceship. In case you missed it, the telescope is called "Hubble" and the spaceship is our Space Shuttle Atlantis. Naturally, the astro-blogosphere took notice. In his "Dynamic of Cats" blog, Steinn Sigurdsson talks about the last pretty picture to come out of that workhorse instrument with the stubborn screw -- Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2.

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The Bigger Picture

May
17

Take a look at "The Bigger Picture," a blog produced by the Smithsonian Photography Initiative (SPI). It aims to present an inside look at the Smithsonian's photography collections and invites audiences to engage in an online discussion about photography's powerful impact on our world. We contributed a post on "Seeing the Invisible (part I)" that you might enjoy: http://blog.photography.si.edu/2009/05/11/seeing-the-invisible/

-Kim Arcand, CXC

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An Intriguing Glowing Galaxy

May
14

Activity from a supermassive black hole is responsible for the intriguing appearance of this galaxy, 3C305, located about 600 million light years away from Earth. The structures in red and light blue are X-ray and optical images from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope respectively. The optical data is from oxygen emission only, and therefore the full extent of the galaxy is not seen.

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Chandra's One-time Shuttle Trip

May
11

This week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will return to the Hubble Space Telescope for a fifth and final time. The mission will bring the telescope new instruments, batteries, and gyroscopes that will extend its lifetime for hopefully several years or more.

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Resolving a Galactic Mystery

Apr
29

An extremely deep Chandra X-ray Observatory image of a region near the center of our Galaxy has resolved a long-standing mystery about an X-ray glow along the plane of the Galaxy. The glow in the region covered by the Chandra image was discovered to be caused by hundreds of point-like X- ray sources, implying that the glow along the plane of the Galaxy is due to millions of such sources.

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Meet an Astronomer: Eli Bressert

Apr
29

In this latest installment of our series, we sit down with Eli Bressert. Eli is responsible for making the Chandra images for the public that appear in press releases, on the website, in posters, etc. While we won't get into the technical details of how that gets done in this video blog, we did want to point out that this an important -- if lesser known -- job in the world of space science.

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"Hand"ling Information in Today's World

Apr
20

We've been publicizing and distributing Chandra results for nearly ten years now. One interesting trend we've watched over this time is how much things have changed in how people get their information. Back in the day, we would write a press release – sometimes even printing on paper! – and this would go to science reporters, who, in turn, would write articles for their newspapers, radio programs, or TV reports. The public would generally learn about our results by seeing them through these outlets.

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Cosmic Heavyweights in Free-For-All

Apr
16

This composite image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745 (MACSJ0717, for short), where four separate galaxy clusters have been involved in a collision, the first time such a phenomenon has been documented. Hot gas is shown in an image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and galaxies are shown in an optical image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The hot gas is color-coded to show temperature, similar to a temperature map of the Earth given in a weather forecast.

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Celebrating Telescopic Diversity

Apr
13

This week, we released a new result that combines data from Chandra with two other telescopes (MacsJ0717.) The truth is that the multiple-telescope approach is Milky Way probably no longer the exception – rather it has become the rule. Modern astronomy and astrophysics is not about being identified with one wavelength as might have been the case in the past.

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