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Recent Podcast
Chandra's Archives Come to Life
Chandra's Archives Come to Life
Every year, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory looks at hundreds of objects throughout space to help expand our understanding of the Universe. (2014-10-22)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
Click for high-resolution animation
1. Tour of CH Cyg
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Deep within this optical image lies an intriguing system known as CH Cyg. CH Cyg is a binary star system containing a white dwarf that feeds from the wind of a red giant star. The material from the wind forms a hot accretion disk around the white dwarf before crashing onto the star. CH Cyg is one of only a few hundred so-called symbiotic systems known, and one of the closest to Earth at a distance of only about 800 light years. By combining X-ray data from Chandra, optical data from Hubble, and radio data from the Very Large Array, scientists can study CH Cyg like never before. This image shows material in a jet, moving with a speed of over three million miles per hour, powered by material spinning into the accretion disk around the white dwarf. Systems like CH Cyg are fascinating objects because the components are codependent and influence each other's structure, daily life, and evolution.
[Runtime: 1.03]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/M.Karovska et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NRAO/VLA]; Wide field [Optical (DSS))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
2. Tour of ESO 137
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Two spectacular tails of X-ray emission have been seen trailing behind a galaxy known as ESO 137. This composite image shows X-rays from Chandra in blue, optical emission in yellow and emission from hydrogen light in red. The X-ray tails were created when cool gas from the galaxy (with a temperature of about ten degrees above absolute zero) was stripped by hot gas of about 100 million degrees as it travels through the center of the galaxy cluster. The stripping of this cool gas could be leading to new stars being formed in the tails behind the galaxy. This would be the first time such a thing had ever been seen.
[Runtime: 0:43]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UVa/M. Sun, et al; H-alpha/Optical: SOAR (UVa/NOAO/UNC/CNPq-Brazil)/M.Sun et al.)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of G327.1-1.1
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only G327.1-1.1 is the aftermath of a massive star that exploded as a supernova in the Milky Way galaxy. A highly magnetic, rapidly spinning neutron star called a pulsar was left behind after the explosion and is producing a wind of relativistic particles, seen in X-rays by Chandra and XMM-Newton as well as in radio data. This structure is called a pulsar wind nebula. No clear explanation is yet known for the unusual shape of this supernova remnant. One possibility is that we are seeing the effects of a shock wave bouncing backwards off of the shell of material swept up by the blast wave. The X-ray observations allow scientists to estimate the energy released during the supernova explosion and the age of the remnant, as well as the amount of material being swept up as the blast wave from the explosion expands.
[Runtime: 01:08]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al. and ESA/XMM-Newton Radio: SIFA/MOST and CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA; Infrared: UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF/2MASS)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of G54.1+0.3
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope were combined to create this image of the dusty remains of a collapsed star. This object, known as G54.1+0.3, is a supernova remnant some 20,000 light years from Earth. The white object near the center of the image is a dense, rapidly-rotating neutron star called a pulsar that was left behind after the star collapsed. The pulsar generates a wind of high-energy particles, seen in the Chandra data, that expands into the surrounding environment, illuminating the material ejected in the supernova explosion. This infrared data shows a shell of dust and gas that's being dispersed back into space where it one day may become part of a new generation of stars and planets.
[Runtime: 0.58]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/T.Temim et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of M31
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This image of M31 represents a study of six elliptical galaxies that Chandra made to determine what causes an important type of supernova. At the heart of M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy, Chandra detects X-rays. The X-ray glow is partially caused by the aftermath of exploded stars known as supernovas. By examining the properties of the X-rays, scientists have figured out that one class of supernovas in these galaxies, known as Type Ia, are caused when two white dwarf stars merge. Understanding how Type Ia supernovas are triggered is important, since these objects are used to measure vast distances across the cosmos.
[Runtime: 0:47]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/MPA/M.Gilfanov & A.Bogdan), Infrared (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC), Optical (DSS))

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M31

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of M31 II
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only For over a decade, astronomers have been using the Chandra X-ray Observatory to monitor the supermassive black hole in the center of Andromeda, the Milky Way's sister galaxy. These observations have revealed that the black hole at the center of Andromeda was very quiet until January 2006, when it underwent a big outburst in X-rays. Since then, it's quieted down again, but it remains about ten times brighter in X-rays now than before 2006. Astronomers will continue to observe this feeble but unpredictable black hole, which is the closest supermassive black hole to us outside of the Milky Way.
[Runtime: 0.47]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/SAO/Li et al.), Optical (DSS))

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M31

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of M82 and Mid-mass Black Holes
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only We begin with a composite image of the nearby starburst galaxy M82 that contains X-rays from Chandra in blue, optical data from Hubble in green and orange, and infrared data from Spitzer in red. Next we zoom into the central region of M82, where just Chandra's view is visible. There we see two bright X-ray sources of special interest. Astronomers think these may be medium-sized black holes. These "survivor" black holes seem to have avoided falling into the center of the galaxy. They could also be examples of seeds required for the growth of supermassive black holes in all galaxies, including the one in the Milky Way.
[Runtime: 0.44]
(Inset: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Tsinghua Univ./H. Feng et al.; Full-field: X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of AZ/C. Engelbracht)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: M82

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of N49
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This beautiful image shows N49, which is the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Optical data from Hubble shows bright filaments where the shockwave generated by the supernova is interacting with the densest regions in nearby clouds of cool molecular gas. A new long observation from Chandra, equaling over 30 hours of observing time, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object that is being blown out of the debris field which is left over from an exploded star. This bullet, which is traveling some 5 million miles per hour, was ejected when the supernova went off and is rich in Silicon, Sulfur and Neon. The detection of this bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric , and gives clues to how some stars explode.
[Runtime: 0:55]
(X-ray: (NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al.); Optical: NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y.H.Chu & R.Williams et al)

Related Chandra Images:
  • Photo Album: N49

Click for high-resolution animation
9. Tour of NGC 1068
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This image shows one of the nearest and brightest galaxies to the Milky Way that contains a rapidly growing supermassive black hole known as NGC 1068. X-rays from Chandra along with optical data from Hubble show the majestic spiral structure of this galaxy. Radio data from the Very Large Array expose a jet of material blasting away from the giant black hole at the galaxy’s core. The Chandra data also reveal a strong wind that is being driven away at a million miles per hour from this same region. This wind is probably gas that has been accelerated and heated as it swirls towards the black hole. These results help explain how a supermassive black hole can alter the evolution of the galaxy in which it lives.
[Runtime: 0:54]
(X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/C.Canizares, D.Evans et al), Optical (NASA/STScI), Radio (NSF/NRAO/VLA))

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
10. Tour of NGC 1399
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Magellan telescopes in Chile suggest that a star has been torn apart by an intermediate-mass black hole. In this image, x-rays from Chandra are shown in blue and are overlaid on an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope in the galaxy known as NGC 1399. The Chandra observations show that one of these objects is a so-called ultraluminous x-ray source, or ULX. ULXs are an unusual class of objects. They emit more x-rays than any known star, but less than the bright x-ray sources associated with supermassive black holes. They may actually be an elusive middle-sized black hole that astronomers have been looking for. If confirmed, this latest discovery from Chandra would be a cosmic double-play. It would be strong evidence for this intermediate-mass black hole, and it would mark the first time such a black hole has been caught tearing apart an entire star.
[Runtime: 1.02]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J. Irwin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI)

Related Chandra Images: