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Recent Podcast
Light Beyond the Bulb: Over and Beyond the Rainbow
Light Beyond the Bulb: Over and Beyond the Rainbow
While scientists and philosophers have tried to figure out exactly what light is for millennia, it's only been in the past several hundred years or so that we've really started to figure it out. (2015-07-01)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of Abell 383
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Dark matter is mysterious. We know that it is invisible material that does not emit or absorb any type of light, but we can detect it through the gravitational effects it has on material we can see. Many scientists consider figuring out what dark matter is to be one of the biggest outstanding problems in astrophysics. Therefore, getting any new information about dark matter can help. Two teams of astronomers have used data from Chandra and other telescopes to map where the dark matter is in the galaxy cluster known as Abell 383. Not only were they able to find where dark matter lies in the two dimensions across the sky, they were also able to determine how the dark matter is distributed along the line of sight, or three dimensionally. So while there's still a long way to go before we know what dark matter is, results like these give astronomers important clues in this compelling cosmic mystery.
[Runtime: 00:59]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of Cassiopeia A
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Over three hundred years ago, a very large star ran out of fuel and collapsed. This event created an explosion, known as a supernova, which then produced an expanding field of debris. This debris field is what we now call the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. Astronomers studying this supernova remnant have found something very interesting. They determined that some of the inner layers of the star before the supernova explosion are now found on the outer edges of the supernova remnant. In other words, it appears that the star has turned itself out, so to speak, at the end of its life. Supernovas and the remnants they create spread elements like carbon, oxygen, and iron into the next generation of stars and planets. Therefore, understanding exactly how these stars explode is very important for knowing how the Universe has gotten to where it is today.
[Runtime: 01:02]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of Cygnus OB2
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The Milky Way and other galaxies in the universe are home to many star clusters and associations that each contain hundreds to thousands of hot, massive, young stars. Astronomers would like to better understand how these star factories form and evolve over time. Cygnus OB2 is the closest massive star cluster to Earth, making it an excellent target for astronomers to study. A long observation from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of Cygnus OB2 revealed about 1,700 X-ray sources. Scientists think that nearly 1,500 of these X-ray sources are young stars. The X-ray emission comes from the hot outer atmospheres of these stars ranging in age from one million to seven million years old. This makes the stars in Cygnus OB2 practically newborn babies when compared to a star like our Sun at about 5 billion years in age. By combining Chandra's data with those from other telescopes, a more complete story of star birth and early adolescence is made.
[Runtime: 01.11]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of DLSCL J0916.2+2951
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Using a combination of powerful observatories in space and on the ground, astronomers have discovered a violent collision between two galaxy clusters. During this collision, so-called normal matter has been wrenched apart from dark matter through a violent collision between two galaxy clusters. We see the normal matter in the form of hot gas thanks to X-rays detected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The location of the dark matter comes from optical data that reveal the effects of gravitational lensing, something Einstein predicted where large masses can distort the light from distant objects. The new galaxy cluster is called DLSCL J0916.2+2951. Rather than say that mouthful, researchers have nicknamed it the "Musket Ball Cluster." This name makes sense because this system is like an older and slower cousin to the famous Bullet Cluster. Finding another system that is further along in its evolution than the Bullet Cluster is very valuable. It gives scientists insight into a different phase of how galaxy clusters -- the largest known objects held together by gravity -- grow and change after major collisions.
[Runtime: 1:22]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of El Gordo
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes have discovered an extraordinary galaxy cluster some 7 billion light years from Earth. This cluster has been nicknamed "El Gordo," which means the "big" or "fat" one in Spanish. The nickname is a nod to the telescope in Chile that was used to help discover it, but also to the fact that El Gordo is the most massive, the hottest, and gives off more X-rays than any other galaxy cluster at this distance or beyond. The X-rays from Chandra and optical data from the VLT show that El Gordo is, in fact, the collision of two galaxy clusters ramming into one another at millions of miles per hour. This makes a younger cousin to the well-known Bullet Cluster. Galaxy clusters are very important for many reasons. As the largest objects in the Universe that are held together by gravity, galaxy clusters can be used to study the mysterious phenomena of dark matter and dark energy.
[Runtime: 1.07]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of G350.1-0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only G350.1+0.3 is a young and exceptionally bright supernova remnant located nearly 15,000 light years from Earth toward the center of the Milky Way. While many supernova remnants are nearly circular, G350.1+0.3 has a strikingly unusual appearance. X-rays from Chandra and infrared data from Spitzer outline this bizarre shape, which astronomers think comes from the stellar debris field expanding into a nearby cloud of cold gas. With an age of between 600 and 1,200 years old, G350.1+0.3 is in the same time frame as other famous supernovas that formed the Crab and SN 1006 supernova remnants. However, it is unlikely that anyone on Earth would have seen the explosion because too much gas and dust lies along our line of sight to the remnant, blocking the view.
[Runtime: 00:59]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of GB 1428+4217
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The most distant jet in X-ray light has been discovered using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This jet was found in the quasar known as GB 1428+4217, or GB 1428 for short. How does GB 1428 make its jet? When giant black holes pull in material at a very rapid rate, large amounts of energy are released. This results in the production of intense radiation and beams of high-energy particles that blast away from the black hole at nearly the speed of light. Astronomers call these beams of particles "jets". At a distance of 12.4 billion years from Earth, the jet in GB 1428 gives astronomers a glimpse into the explosive activity associated with the growth of giant black holes in the early Universe.
[Runtime: 1.01]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of IGR J11014-6103
QuicktimeMPEG Has the speediest pulsar been found? That's the question that astronomers are asking after three different telescopes looked at the pulsar known as IGR J11014-6103. This pulsar was found racing away from a supernova remnant located about 30,000 light years from Earth. An image from the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite shows a glowing debris field in X-rays. This is the remains of a massive star that exploded thousands of years before. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers were able to focus their attention on a small, comet-shaped X-ray source outside the boundary of this supernova remnant. It appears that this object, thought to be a rapidly spinning, incredibly dense star - which astronomers call a "pulsar" -- was ejected during the supernova explosion. Researchers calculate that this pulsar may be dashing away from the supernova at speeds of about 6 million miles per hour. If this result is confirmed, it would make this pulsar the fastest ever seen.
[Runtime: 01:08]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of Kepler's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This image of Kepler's supernova remnant shows the expanding ball of debris from a supernova explosion in our galaxy. The supernova itself was seen in 1604 by Johannes Kepler and others. The different colors in the Chandra X-ray data show different energies in the supernova remnant, and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey shows stars in the field. The Kepler supernova was the thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf. New analysis suggests that the supernova explosion was not only more powerful, but might have also occurred at a greater distance, than previously thought.
[Runtime: 00:43]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of M83
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Since the 1980s, astronomers have known about a mysterious class of objects that they call "ultraluminous X-ray sources," or ULXs. They named them this because these objects give off more X-ray light than most other binary systems where black holes or neutron stars are in orbit around a normal companion star. Recently, scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and optical telescopes spotted a ULX in the spiral galaxy M83 that was acting even more strangely. This ULX increased its output in X-rays by 3,000 times over the course of several years. Using clues found in the X-ray and optical data, researchers think this ULX may be a member of a population of black holes that up until now was suspected to exist but had not been confirmed. These black holes, which are the smaller stellar-mass black holes, are older and more volatile than previously thought.
[Runtime: 1.04]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M83