General

Hub of the Universe

Everyone around here knows that Boston likes to consider itself the "Hub of the Universe". This month, it really is. Opening this weekend, two outdoor exhibitions – at the Museum of Science and UMass-Boston – will help Bostonians explore their place in the cosmos.

Those of you who are regularly readers of the Chandra blog already have heard a great deal about this project. But for the rest of you, here's some background.

Back To School: Three Simple Ways to Share the Universe With Your Child

Parents can play an important part in helping their child explore the world around them. Space might seem far out there, but it can ignite your child's imagination — and can cause them to zip around your living room pretending to be a rocket among the outer planets.

We have developed a lot of educational Chandra activities and products to do just that (ignite your child's imagination that is, not send them to the outer planets!). Here are three easy things to try with your young child (ages 5-8) to bring a little bit of Chandra and the rest of the Universe right to them.

Ten Years Later

Ten Years

It's been ten years since Chandra was launched. A decade is a long time for a spacecraft, or any other complex machine, to operate without maintenance. Hubble has been up 18 years (launch 1991), but it has had regular maintenance with five Space Shuttle crews putting in new instruments and replacing worn out old parts. Chandra, on the other hand, was deliberately placed where the Shuttle couldn't service it. So Chandra's not doing badly considering there will be no 200-million-mile/10-year tune up!

A Different Kind of Peer Pressure

Last month, over one hundred astronomers met for several days of marathon sessions in a Boston-area hotel. The purpose of this intense gathering, which takes a lot of work for the Chandra X-ray Center to organize, was to decide what Chandra will observe in the upcoming year. This process, called "peer review," is the engine that drives the science that Chandra discovers.

Chandra Spacecraft

Seamless Astronomy and Remote Collaborations

Pepi Fabbiano is a senior astrophysicist at the Smtihsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In addition to her duties with Chandra and her research into galaxies, black holes, and other aspects of the high-energy Universe, she also actively involved in helping bringing astronomy and its tools into the 21st century.

I am just back from the spring meeting of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). The IVOA is an international collaboration of astronomers and computer scientists aimed at connecting via the internet archives of astronomical data world-wide. These are observations of the sky both from the ground and space and include X-ray data Chandra together with radio, optical, infrared and ultraviolet observations. The purpose of the IVOA is to develop standards so that anyone can retrieve data from the participant archives, publish their own observations to the world, and make the data "play together" to discover new aspects of the universe.

A GPS System for Cosmic Images

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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