When astronomers combine Chandra's X-ray data with images from other observatories, the results are often breathtaking.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was launched into space in 1999 and has served a total of almost 22 years in orbit, although the telescope was originally estimated to have a lifespan of five years. The telescope is capable of registering X-ray quanta with energies from 0.1 to 10 keV.
Artist’s impression of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: NASA / CXC / NGST
The need to work outside the atmosphere is due to the fact that X-rays are strongly scattered by molecules of atmospheric gases and it is impossible to obtain highly detailed images of deep space objects in this wavelength range using ground-based observatories.
In the X-ray wavelength range, one can observe the consequences of various high-energy processes that cause matter to heat up to temperatures ranging from millions to hundreds of millions of Kelvin. Radiation sources can be pulsars, active galactic nuclei, black holes, and clouds of rarefied intergalactic hot gas in clusters and supernova remnants.
With this said, here are 20 jaw-dropping images of celestial objects made with data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Earlier this year, astronomers using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory showed this image of Uranus after they detected X-Rays for the first time. The image above includes an X-Ray image by Chandra (in pink) over an optical image from the Keck-I Telescope. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXO/University College London/W. Dunn et al; Optical: W.M. Keck Observatory
The magnificent composite image of the Center of the Milky Way, where scientists discovered the n ew phenomenon. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT
Star system Eta Carinae in the Milky Way, possibly containing the next star in our galaxy to explode into a supernova. This is a composite image with optical and ultraviolet data from Hubble, and X-Rays from Chandra. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC; Ultraviolet/Optical: NASA/STScI; Combined Image: NASA/ESA/N. Smith (University of Arizona), J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute) and A. Pagan
Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A has been studied by Chandra for decades and has provided incredibe data about this object. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIKEN/T. Sato et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI
The Cartwheel Galaxy shown here has been observed by several space telescopes including the Chandra observatory. This image is composed of optical data from Hubble and Chandra’s X-ray data (in purple). Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC; Optical: NASA/STScI
Composite image of Cygnus OB2 with X-Ray data from Chandra (red and blue). Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Drake et al; H-alpha: Univ. of Hertfordshire/INT/IPHAS; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Spitzer
X-ray image of supernova remnant G292.0+1.8 showing the expanding field area after the explosion. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO
Supernova remnant of a star within the Small Magellanic Cloud. Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE), Optical (NASA/STScI)
Composite image of neutron star E0102 made with data from the Chandra Observatory and the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI)
Supernova remnant SN 1006 shown in this Chandra image. The object appeared more than 1,000 years and has been studied by ancient and Medieval astronomers. Credit: NASA/CXC/Middlebury College/F.Winkler
Remnant of Kepler’s supernova, which the famous astronomer discovered in 1604. This is a composite image from optical and X-ray data. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/M.Burkey et al; Optical: DSS
Composite image of the Crab Nebula combining X-Ray data from Chandra and optical and infrared data from other observatories. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Seward; Optical: NASA/ESA/ASU/J.Hester & A.Loll; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Minn./R.Gehrz
Composite image of the Tarantula Nebula, an active star-forming region close to the Milky Way. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.
Composite image of a region of the Small Magellanic Cloud called NGC 602 made with X-Ray data from Chandra. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ.Potsdam/L.Oskinova et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The “Toothbrush Cluster” in a composite image with X-Ray Data from Chandra and visible light data from the Subaru Telescope. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/R. van Weeren et al; Radio: LOFAR/ASTRON; Optical: NAOJ/Subaru
A cluster of young stars about 20,000 light-years from our planet. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/Sejong Univ./Hur et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
An older composite image of the galactic center. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/D. Wang et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/D.Wang et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSC/S.Stolovy
Composite image of galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163 which are in the process of merging. The image was made with X-Ray data from Chandra and infrared and optical data from Hubble and Spitzer. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/S.Mineo et al, Optical: NASA/STScI, Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Image of the famous “Pillars of Creation” made with the help of Chandra. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Colorado/Linsky et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/ASU/J.Hester & P.Scowen.
The Coronet Cluster which is one of the closest active regions of star formation. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/J.Forbrich et al.; Infrared: NASA/SSC/CfA/IRAC GTO Team
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