In its relatively short 50 year history, the field of X-ray astronomy has shed a whole new light on our view of the universe, and has seen a dizzying rate of technological advancement. Prior to the 1960's, only the Sun was a known source of high energy radiation in X-rays and gamma-rays. These wavelengths of light are absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, so X-ray astronomy depended on advancements in rocketry and space science to be fully explored.
We are live from the USA Science & Engineering Festival this weekend (October 23 and 24, 2010)! It's very cool to be in the heart of Washington, DC for this first national science fair.
If you felt a slight pull in the direction of our nation's capitol recently, it might have to do with a giant event that will culminate in veritable science-apoolza this weekend. This thing is something called the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and we're excited to be part of it here at Chandra.
Observations with NASA's Chandra, Swift, and Rossi X-ray observatories, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and ESA's XMM-Newton have revealed that a slowly rotating neutron star with a comparatively very weak surface magnetic field is giving off bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. This discovery may indicate the presence of an internal magnetic field much more intense than the surface magnetic field, with implications for how the most powerful magnets in the cosmos evolve.
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 (blue) as well as in the radio data (red and yellow). This structure is called a pulsar wind nebula. The likely location of the spinning neutron star is shown in the labeled version. The large red circle shows radio emission from the blast wave, and the composite image also contains infrared data from the 2MASS survey (red, green, and blue) that show the stars in the field.
Janet DePonte Evans is the Software Development Manager for the Chandra X-ray Center Data System (CXCDS) group, which provides end-to-end scientific software for Chandra's mission operations. This includes software to manage the scientific proposals, mission planning software prior to an observation, and then the software to reduce and analyze the scientific data returned from the telescope. Janet's group also developed and maintains the Chandra data archive and interfaces that allow scientists to retrieve Chandra data for further study.
The composite image on the left shows X-ray and optical data for BP Piscium (BP Psc), a more evolved version of our Sun about 1,000 light years from Earth. Chandra X-ray Observatory data are colored in purple, and optical data from the 3-meter Shane telescope at Lick Observatory are shown in orange, green and blue. BP Psc is surrounded by a dusty and gaseous disk and has a pair of jets several light years long blasting out of the system. A close-up view is shown by the artist's impression on the right. For clarity a narrow jet is shown, but the actual jet is probably much wider, extending across the inner regions of the disk. Because of the dusty disk, the star's surface is obscured in optical and near-infrared light. Therefore, the Chandra observation is the first detection of this star in any wavelength.
Well this is typical of how things work out. My last blog post I started back on July 23, Chandra's 11th birthday, and it was about how calm and, well boring, the Sun has been. It took me a couple days to finish it and then a few more for it to get posted. In between me writing the blog about the "quiet sun" and it being posted, there were a bunch of headlines like "Solar Tsunami", "Quiet No More" and then, "Solar Blast Just Misses." So what happened?
This composite image shows the Rosette star formation region, located about 5,000 light years from Earth. Data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory are colored red and outlined by a white line. The X-rays reveal hundreds of young stars in the central cluster and fainter clusters on either side. Optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the Kitt Peak National Observatory (purple, orange, green and blue) show large areas of gas and dust, including giant pillars that remain behind after intense radiation from massive stars has eroded the more diffuse gas.
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