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Recent Podcast
A Tour of NGC 2276
A Tour of NGC 2276
Astronomers found that this intermediate-mass black hole is producing a jet that appears to be squelching the formation of stars around it. (2015-03-03)
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Animations & Video: Featured Image Tours
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1. Tour of NGC 281
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only High-mass stars are important because they are responsible for much of the energy pumped into a galaxy over its lifetime. Unfortunately, these stars aren't understood very well because they are usually found relatively far away in places where lots of gas and dust can impede out line of sight. The star cluster NGC 281 is an exception to this rule. It is located about 6,500 light years from Earth and almost 1,000 light years above the plane of the Galaxy. This means it's away from much of stuff that blocks our view. Here we see NGC 281 in X-rays from Chandra and infrared data from Spitzer. The high-mass stars in NGC 281 have powerful winds flowing from their surfaces and intense radiation that heats surrounding gas, "boiling it away" into interstellar space. This process results in the formation of large columns of gas and dust, as seen on the left side of the image. These structures likely contain newly forming stars. The eventual deaths of massive stars as supernovas will also seed the galaxy with material and energy.
[Runtime: 1.29]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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2. Tour of NGC 3115
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only This is NGC 3115, a galaxy located about 32 million light years from Earth. This composite image contains X-rays from Chandra as well as optical data from the Very Large Telescope. Using the new Chandra image, astronomers have imaged the flow of hot gas as it falls toward the supermassive black hole in the center of NGC 3115. This is the first time such a flow has been clearly imaged in any black hole. The Chandra data also provide evidence that the black hole in NGC 3115 has a mass of about two billion times that of the Sun. This would make NGC 3115 the host of the nearest billion-solar-mass black hole to Earth.
[Runtime: 00:55]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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Click for high-resolution animation
3. Tour of NGC 3393
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered the first pair of supermassive black holes in a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way. These black holes were found in the galaxy NGC 3393, which is located about 160 million light years from Earth. This is the view of NGC 3393 from both Chandra and the Hubble Space Telescope. Zooming in further, we see what the center of the galaxy looks like in just X-rays. The two peaks of X-ray emission are, in fact, black holes that are actively growing. They glow in X-rays as gas falling toward the black hole gets hotter. Separated by only 490 light years, the black holes in NGC 3393 are likely the remains of a galactic merger that took place a billion or more years ago.
[Runtime: 1.02]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
4. Tour of PSR J0357+3205
QuicktimeMPEG A spinning neutron star is tied to a mysterious tail, or is it? Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found a long, X-ray bright tail streaming away from the pulsar known as PSR J0357. The tail appears to stretch for over 4 light years from behind the pulsar, which would make it the longest one ever seen trailing behind this type of pulsar. However, as is often the case in astronomy, things are not quite so simple. The amount of energy being lost from the pulsar doesn't seem to account for all of the material seen in the tail. Also, the brightest portion of the tail is not actually near the pulsar, which scientists would expect. So scientists plan on looking at PSR J0357 more in the future with Chandra and other telescopes, and hope that even more data will help them pin down what is happening in this intriguing object.
[Runtime: 1.03]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
5. Tour of RCW 86
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only In 185 A.D., Chinese astronomers noted a "guest star" that mysteriously appeared in the sky and stayed for about 8 months. By the 1960s, scientists had determined that the mysterious object was, in fact, a supernova. Later, they figured out that this supernova remnant, now known as RCW 86, was located about 8,000 light years away. Today, astronomers have taken data from four different telescopes to make this stunning new image of RCW 86. Here, X-rays from Chandra and XMM-Newton have been combined with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the WISE mission. Taken together, these data show that the explosion from nearly 2,000 years ago was caused by a so-called Type Ia supernova. This type of supernova happens when a white dwarf star pulls too much material from a companion star, causing a thermonuclear explosion to go off.
[Runtime: 1.14]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
6. Tour of SXP 1062
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The Milky Way galaxy has several small satellite galaxies very close to it. One of them is called the Small Magellanic Cloud. Astronomers using several telescopes - including the Chandra X-ray Observatory - spotted an unusual object in the SMC. The source is known as SXP 1062 and may be the first pulsar found within the remains of a supernova explosion. X-ray data from Chandra and XMM-Newton also show that SXP 1062 is rotating unusually slowly - about once every 18 minutes. In contrast, some pulsars are found to revolve multiple times per second, including most newly born pulsars. Scientists have determined the pulsar was born between ten and forty thousand years ago. While this may sound like a long time, it is a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. Therefore, it is a mystery why SXP 1062 has been able to slow down by so much, so quickly.
[Runtime: 01:12]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
7. Tour of Tarantula Nebula
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only 30 Doradus is a place where stars are born literally. This region, which is also known as the Tarantula Nebula, is located about 160,000 light years from Earth. Within 30 Doradus, giant stars are producing intense radiation and powerful winds that are blowing off material from their surfaces. These stellar winds and blasts from supernova explosions have heated some of the gas to millions of degrees. The Chandra X-ray Observatory can detect this gas in the form of X-ray light. This hot gas carves out gigantic bubbles in the surrounding cooler gas and dust that can be seen by the Spitzer Space Telescope as infrared emission. When combined, the data from these two telescopes reveal an amazing view of this region that is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small neighbor galaxy to our Milky Way.
[Runtime: 00:59]
(NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

Related Chandra Images:

Click for high-resolution animation
8. Tour of Tycho's Supernova Remnant
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only New research using Chandra data of the Tycho supernova remnant provides astronomers with clues to what triggered the original supernova explosion. Tycho was formed by a so-called Type Ia supernova. Scientists use this category of supernovas to measure large distances across the Universe because it is believed they are consistently bright when they explode. But what causes the explosion? This is still a debate. This new Chandra result, however, suggests that Tycho went off when a white dwarf pulled too much material from a companion star and exploded. This evidence comes from a small arc of X-ray emission that was found in the Chandra image. This arc is, in fact, due to a shock wave created when the white dwarf exploded and blew material off the surface of the nearby star. Understanding exactly how and why Type Ia supernovas explode is useful because they are an important type of object for investigating dark energy in the Universe.
[Runtime: 1.09]
(NASA/CXC/Chinese Academy of Sciences/F. Lu et al)

Related Chandra Images:

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9. A Tour of GOODS (Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey)
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only Today's telescopes study the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum. Each part of the spectrum tells us different things about the Universe, giving us more pieces of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle. The most powerful telescopes on the ground and in space have joined forces over the last decade in a unique observing campaign, known as GOODS, which reaches across the spectrum and deep back into cosmic time.
[Runtime: 10:25]
(CXC)

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10. A Tour of SN 1979C
QuicktimeMPEG Audio Only The youngest known black hole in our cosmic neighborhood may have been found using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. Evidence for this very young black hole was found in a supernova called 1979C, seen to explode about 30 years ago. Dr Dan Patnaude of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics led this study and discusses it with us.
[Runtime: 02:56]
(X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/D.Patnaude et al, Optical: ESO/VLT, Infrared: NASA/JPL/Caltech)

Related Chandra Images: