There are those of us who are experts, and then those of us who are not. Even some of us who have been working in X-ray astronomy can lose track of some of the basics. To help provide a little introduction or perhaps just a refresher, weâ€™ve put together a little thing we like to call â€œX-ray 101â€. Itâ€™s meant just to give a very quick overview of what Chandra is and what X-ray astronomy is all about.
Recently a group of researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles announced what has been described by the New York Times as a "tour de force of office supply physics." The scientists measured X-ray flashes from a roll of Scotch tape as it was unpeeled.
Now that we shamelessly have your attention, we'd like to invite you to take a survey about our newly redesigned website. We know, we know, surveys can be less than stimulating. To make it worth your while, we are offering the possibility of a free package of Chandra goodies â€“ bookmarks, postcards, etc. â€“ that will be mailed directly to you. Weâ€™ll pick 50 people randomly to get the stuff, and weâ€™ll let you know if youâ€™ve been chosen.
While we like to focus on the current excitement in X-ray astronomy, sometimes it's good to look back. Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Einstein Observatory. Back on November 13, 1978, the High Energy Astrophysics Observatory 2 was launched on Atlas-Centaur booster rocket. Shortly afterward, the satellite was renamed in honor of that little known scientist, Albert Einstein. While HEAO-2 is catchy, we think Einstein is a little easier off the tongue.
If you haven't noticed by now, we like new things around here. In fact, it almost pains us to see something out there that's fun and exciting that weâ€™re not a part of. So to remedy that, we just try to get Chandra involved with everything we can. The latest, in our humble opinion, is very cool.
As many of this blog's readers may know, Chandra is NASA's flagship X-ray mission but it's not the only major X-ray telescope in orbit. The other one is XMM-Newton, which was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) just five months after Chandra in 1999. The great thing about Chandra and XMM-Newton is that many of their capabilities are complementary. In other words, scientists often use both and can combine the data for even stronger results.
Here at the Chandra X-ray Center, we work hard to make the images that you find on the public website. No, thereâ€™s no magic button that we push to make pretty pictures. In fact, there are countless keystrokes, mouse movements, and lots of thinking that go into these images of the cosmos that are fit for public consumption.
Not to give away my age, but I remember not too long ago using film when I took pictures. And then having (gasp!) to get them developed. It was a sad, sad world, but somehow we emerged into our current age of electronic enlightenment.
One of the greatest advantages of digital visualization, in my opinion, is the ability to share, comment on, and arrange images in a myriad of ways. And, of course, Flickr has been highly successful at taking these concepts to a new level.
Fifty years ago this week, on October 1st, the legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, was enacted. There will likely be a lot of buzz about this anniversary, and rightly so, since it has, among many other things, shaped our understanding of the Universe so dramatically.
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