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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)


Video Podcasts: The Incredible Two-Inch Universe

Step 3: The Realm of Our Solar System and Nearby Stars

View/Listen
Now let's shrink the entire Solar System down to 2 inches in diameter :

Planet sizes and orbits on 2-inch image are NOT to scale!
  • Size of Sun - Microscopic at this scale, a shining speck at the center of the image
  • Sun-Earth Distance - 1/2 mm - Earth orbits very close to the center of the Solar System
  • Pluto's Orbit - Around the edge of the 2-inch Solar System image
  • Nearest Star to Sun - 2 soccer fields away
  • Nearby Star Discovered to Have Orbiting Planets - 5 soccer fields away. Two planets have been discovered around the star Epsilon Eridani, which is visible from the southern hemisphere.
  • Our Milky Way Galaxy - Size of North America. At this scale, our 2-inch Solar System is part of a continent-sized system of 200 billion shining speck stars. These stars, spread 30 miles (50 km) high, are generally separated from each other by more than 2 soccer fields.
  • Light Travel Time - It takes about 10 hours for a beam of light to cross the Solar System and years for light to travel between stars.
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