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Recent Podcast
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
A Tour of The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, we have released four new images of supernova remnants. These show Chandra's ability to study the remains of supernova explosions, using images that are the sharpest available in X-ray astronomy. The images of the Tycho and G292.0+1.8 supernova remnants show how Chandra can trace the expanding debris of an exploded star. The images show shock waves, similar to sonic booms from a supersonic plane, that travel through space at speeds of millions of miles per hour. The images of the Crab Nebula and 3C58 show the effects of very dense, rapidly spinning neutron stars created when a massive star explodes. These neutron stars can create clouds of high-energy particles that glow brightly in X-rays. The image for G292 shows oxygen (yellow and orange), and other elements such as magnesium (green) and silicon and sulfur (blue) that were forged in the star before it exploded. For the other images, the lower energy X-rays are shown in red and green and the highest energy X-rays are shown in blue. (2014-07-22)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of HD 189733
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only HD 189733b: An exoplanet in orbit around a star about 63 light years from Earth.It has been nearly two decades since the first exoplanets - that is, planets around stars other than our Sun - were discovered. Now for the first time, X-ray observations have detected an exoplanet passing in front of its parent star. The observations, made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory, took advantage of the alignment of a planet and its parent star in HD 189733. This alignment enabled the observatories to observe a dip in X-ray intensity as the planet moved in front of, or transited, the star. This technique is the one used so successfully at optical wavelengths by NASA's Kepler telescope. In earlier studies using optical light, astronomers discovered that the main star in the HD 189733 system had what is known as a "hot Jupiter" around it. This means the planet is about the size of Jupiter, but in very close orbit around its star. The planet - that has been named HD 189733b -- is over 30 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, and goes around the star once every 2.2 days. The new X-ray data suggest that this planet has a larger atmosphere than previously thought. This, in turn, may imply that radiation from the parent star is evaporating the atmosphere of HD 189733b more quickly than expected. The results on HD 189733 demonstrate how we need information from many different telescopes that detect different types of light to get a fuller picture of these mysterious worlds that we are now able to explore.
[Runtime: 01:54]
(NASA/CXC/J. DePasquale)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of 47 Tucanae
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Neutron stars are the ultra-dense cores that are often left behind after massive stars run out of fuel and collapse. In fact, these compact objects, which are less than 10 miles in diameter, contain the densest matter known in the Universe outside of a black hole. New results from Chandra and other X-ray telescopes are giving scientists information about important properties of neutron stars. By studying eight neutron stars, a group of researchers have come up with the one of the most reliable determinations yet of the relation between the radius of a neutron star and its mass. They looked at the neutron stars in double, or binary, systems where they are in orbit with stars like our Sun. One of these systems is known as X7 and is found in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. Because the mass and radius of a neutron star is directly related to interactions between the particles in the interior of the star, the latest results give scientists new information about the inner workings of neutron stars.
[Runtime: 01:12]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of Coma Cluster
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity. Because they are so big, they play a very important role in the Universe. A new result is revealing clues to how these giant structures grow and evolve over time. Astronomers have discovered enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies by using Chandra X-ray Observatory and XMM-Newton, another orbiting X-ray observatory run by the European Space Agency. Researchers think that these arms were most likely formed when smaller galaxy clusters had their gas stripped away by the head wind created by the motion of the clusters through the hot gas -- much the same way that the headwind created by a roller coaster blows the hats off riders. By studying these remarkable arms that span over a half a million light years across, astronomers are taking another step toward understanding the past, present, and perhaps future of these colossal objects.
[Runtime: 01:03]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of DEM L50
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only DEM L50 is what astronomers call a superbubble. These objects are found in regions where massive stars have formed, raced through their evolution, and exploded as supernovas. Winds from the massive stars and shock waves from the supernovas carve out huge cavities in the gas and dust around them, creating superbubbles. This composite contains X-rays from Chandra and optical data from ground-based telescopes. The superbubble in DEM L50 is giving off about 20 times more X-rays than expected by standard models. Researchers think that supernova shock waves striking the walls of the cavities and hot material evaporating from the cavity walls may be responsible for this additional X-ray emission.
[Runtime: 00:51]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of G1.9+0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers estimate that a star explodes as a supernova in our Galaxy, on average, about twice per century. In 2008, a team of scientists announced they discovered the remains of a supernova that is the most recent, in Earth's time frame, known to have occurred in the Milky Way. The explosion would have been visible from Earth a little more than a hundred years ago, if it hadn't been heavily obscured by dust and gas. Today, that object is known as the supernova G1.9+0.3 or G1.9 for short. A new long observation -- equivalent to more than 11 days of Chandra time -- of explosion's debris field is providing new details about G1.9. The source of G1.9 was most likely a white dwarf star that underwent a thermonuclear detonation and was destroyed - either after merging with another white dwarf or by pulling too much material from an orbiting companion star. The explosion ejected the remains of the destroyed star, creating the supernova remnant seen today by Chandra and other telescopes. The new Chandra data show that the explosion that created G1.9 was different than other supernovas like it. For starters, the remnant's debris is unevenly distributed, while most other supernova remnant are highly symmetrical. Also, researchers found that some of the debris - particularly iron that would have been in the star's core before the explosion -- is moving at extremely high speeds. By combining these clues from the Chandra data with theoretical models, scientists think that the explosion that created G1.9 must have been highly irregular and abnormally energetic.
[Runtime: 01:56]
(NASA/CXC/J. DePasquale)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of Kepler's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over 400 years ago, Johannes Kepler and many others witnessed the appearance of a new "star" in the sky. Today, this object is known as the Kepler supernova remnant. For some time, astronomers have thought that the Kepler remnant comes from a so-called Type Ia supernova. These supernovas are the result of a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf. However, there is an ongoing controversy about Type Ia supernovas. Are they caused by a white dwarf pulling so much material from a companion star that it becomes unstable and explodes? Or do they result from the merger of two white dwarfs? New Chandra images reveal a disk-shaped structure near the center of the remnant. Researchers interpret this X-ray emission to be caused by the collision between supernova debris and disk-shaped material that a giant star expelled before the explosion. This and other pieces of evidence suggest that at least the Type Ia explosion that created Kepler was not the result of a merger between white dwarfs. Since these supernovas are used to measure the expansion of the Universe itself, astronomers are eager to understand them inside and out.
[Runtime: 01:26]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of M31
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Many consider Andromeda, also known as Messier 31, to be a sister galaxy to our own Milky Way. At a distance of only 2.5 million light years away, Andromeda is relatively close to our Galaxy. It is also a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way, and has many similar characteristics. However, a new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has pointed out some interesting differences between these two galaxies when it comes to black holes. After combining over 150 Chandra observations spread over 13 years, researchers discovered 26 new black hole candidates in Andromeda. This is largest number to date found in a galaxy outside our own. Falling into the stellar-mass category, these black holes form when the most massive stars collapse. The result is a black hole that typically has between five and ten times the mass of the Sun. Seven of these black hole candidates are within 1,000 light years of Andromeda's center, more than what is found near the center of our Milky Way's core. This highlights that although Andromeda and the Milky Way are alike in many ways, they do have their differences. Astronomers have long known that the bulge of stars in Andromeda is bigger as is the super massive black hole at its center. Now we know that it may be a better producer of small black holes as well.
[Runtime: 01:45]
(NASA/CXC/J. DePasquale)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M31

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of M60-UCD1
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers may have discovered the densest galaxy in the nearby Universe. The galaxy, known as M60-UCD1, is located about 54 million light years from Earth. M60-UCD1 is packed with an extraordinary number of stars and this has led scientists to classify it as an "ultra-compact dwarf galaxy." This means that this galaxy is smaller and has more stars than just a regular dwarf galaxy. While astronomers already knew this, it wasn't until these latest results from Chandra, Hubble and telescopes on the ground that they knew just how dense this galaxy truly is. M60-UCD1 has the mass about 200 million times our Sun and, remarkably, about half of this mass is packed into a radius of just about 80 light years. That translates into the density of stars in this part of M60-UCD1 being about 15,000 times greater than what's found in Earth's neighborhood in the Milky Way. Astronomers have been trying to determine where these ultra-compact dwarf galaxies fit into the galactic evolutionary chain. Some have suggested they start off not as galaxies but as giant star clusters. The latest results on M60-UCD1 challenge that idea. The new Chandra data indicate that there may be a supermassive black hole at the center of M60-UCD1. If that's the case, then it's unlikely this object could have ever been a star cluster. Instead, the X-ray data point to this galaxy being the remnants of a larger galaxy that had its outer stars ripped away by tidal forces, leaving behind the dense inner core of the galaxy. Other information about M60-UCD1 including its large mass, point to the same conclusion. Regardless, this galaxy is a fascinating object that astronomers will be studying for a long time to come.
[Runtime: 02:12]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of NGC 1232
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Throughout the Universe, galaxies collide. Yet despite being a relatively common occurrence, astronomers are still trying to learn more about the details of what happens when these events take place. A new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory adds a new piece to this cosmic puzzle. The latest result from Chandra reveals a massive cloud of scorching gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud - which has a temperature of about 6 million degrees -- is likely caused by a collision between a dwarf galaxy and a much larger galaxy called NGC 1232. If further research confirms that this indeed the case, this discovery would mark the first time such a collision has been detected only in X-rays. And, because it might be an effective way to search for similar collisions, this result could have implications for understanding how other galaxies grow.
[Runtime: 01:05]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of NGC 2392
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Stars like the Sun can become remarkably photogenic at the end of their lives. A good example is NGC 2392, which is located about 4,200 light years from Earth. NGC 2392, which is nicknamed the "Eskimo Nebula", is what astronomers call a planetary nebula. This name, however, is deceiving because planetary nebulas actually have nothing to do with planets. The term is simply a historic relic since these objects looked like planetary disks to astronomers in earlier times looking through small optical telescopes. Instead, planetary nebulas form when a Sun-like star uses up all of the hydrogen in its core, which our Sun will in about 5 billion years from now. When this happens, the star begins to cool and expand, increasing its radius by tens to hundreds of times its original size. Eventually, the outer layers of the star are swept away by a slow and thick wind, leaving behind a hot core. This hot core has a surface temperature of about 50,000 degrees Celsius, and is ejecting its outer layers in a fast wind traveling 6 million kilometers per hour. The radiation from the hot star and the interaction of its fast wind with the slower wind creates the complex and filamentary shell of a planetary nebula. Eventually the central star will collapse to form a white dwarf star. X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory show the location of million-degree gas near the center of NGC 2392. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal the intricate pattern of the outer layers of the star that have been ejected. Taken together, these data from today's space-based telescopes provide us with spectacular views of planetary nebulas that our scientific ancestors - those that thought these objects were associated with planets -- probably could never have imagined.
[Runtime: 02:17]
(NASA/CXC/J. DePasquale)

Related Chandra Images: