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Presented by:
Jorge A Campos
 part of NASA's fleet of "Great Observatories"
• the Hubble Space Telescope
• the Spitizer Space Telescope
• Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (deorbited)
 launched and deployed by Space Shuttle
Columbia on July 23, 1999
 Chandra is designed to observe X-rays from
high-energy regions of the universe, such as the
remnants of exploded stars.
 Example: two images of the Crab Nebula
supernova remnant and its pulsar
LEFT: image from the High Resolution Imager on the
Rontgensatellite (Rosat), the observatory with the best imaging
capability before Chandra.
RIGHT: taken by the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer
(ACIS) on Chandra.
It has approximately fifty times better resolution (pixel area fifty
or more times smaller) than the one on the left. In the Chandra
image, new details-rings and jets in the region around the
pulsar-provide valuable information for understanding how the
pulsar transmits energy to the nebula as a whole.
Why X-ray
Much of the matter in the universe cannot be seen by any
other telescope. X-ray telescopes are the only way we can
observe extremely hot matter with temperatures of millions of
degrees Celsius. It takes gigantic explosions, or intense
magnetic or gravitational fields to energize particles to these
high temperatures.
Where do such conditions exist? In an astonishing variety of
places, ranging from the vast spaces between galaxies to the
bizarre, collapsed worlds of neutron stars and black holes.
What are X-rays?
X-rays are a highly energetic form of light, not visible to human
Very low temperatures (hundreds of degrees below zero Celsius)
produce mostly low energy radio and microwave photons, while
cool bodies like ours (about 30 degrees Celsius) produce largely
infrared radiation. Objects at very high temperatures (millions of
degrees Celsius) emit most of their energy as x-rays.
How do X-ray
telescopes differ from
optical telescopes?
X-rays do not reflect off mirrors the same way that visible light
does. Because of their high-energy, X-ray photons penetrate
into the mirror in much the same way that bullets slam into a
wall. These properties mean that X-ray telescopes must be
very different from optical telescopes.
The mirrors have to be precisely shaped and aligned nearly
parallel to incoming x-rays. Thus they look more like barrels
than the familiar dish shape of optical telescopes.
How do X-ray
telescopes differ from
optical telescopes?
Why can't we have
X-ray observatories on
X-ray observatories must be placed high above the
Earth's surface because the Earth's atmosphere
absorbs x-rays.
This means that the ultra-precise mirrors and
detectors must be able to withstand the rocket
launch and operate in the harsh environment of
What makes Chandra
Chandra detects and images X-ray sources that are billions of
light years away.
The mirrors on Chandra are the largest, most precisely
shaped and aligned, and smoothest mirrors ever constructed.
The images Chandra makes are twenty-five times sharper
than the best previous X-ray telescope. This focusing power
is equivalent to the ability to read a newspaper at a distance
of half a mile.
Chandra's improved sensitivity is making possible more
detailed studies of black holes, supernovas, and dark matter.
Some images…
SN 1006: The Hot
Remains of a 1000 YearOld Supernova
This false-color Chandra image of a supernova remnant shows X-rays
produced by high-energy particles (blue) and multimillion degree gas
(red/green). In 1006 AD, what was thought to be a "new star" suddenly
appeared in the sky and over the course of a few days became brighter than
the planet Venus. The supernova of 1006, or SN 1006, may have been the
brightest supernova on record.
Credit Chandra: NASA/CXC/GSFC/U.Hwang et al.;
ROSAT: NASA/GSFC/S.Snowden et al.
Scale ROSAT image is 88 arcmin across; Chandra image
is 8 arcmin across
Category Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000) RA 08h 23m 08.16s | Dec -42º 41'
Constellation Puppis
Observation Date 04 Sep 2005
Observation Time 10 hours
Obs. ID 5564
Color Code Energy (Red 0.4-0.7 keV; Green 0.7-1.2 keV;
Blue 1.2-10 keV)
Instrument ACIS
References U. Hwang et al. 2005, ApJ 635, 355, astroph/0508243
Distance Estimate About 7,000 light years
Release Date February 15, 2006
The Chandra three-color image (inset) of a region of the supernova remnant
Puppis A (wide-angle view from ROSAT in blue) reveals a cloud being torn
apart by a shock wave produced in a supernova explosion. This is the first Xray identification of such a process in an advanced phase.
Credit NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Warren & J.Hughes et al.
Scale Image is 10.5 arcmin across.
Category Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000) RA 00h 25m 17s | Dec +64° 08' 37"
Constellation Cassiopeia
Observation Dates 29 Apr 2003
Observation Time 41 hours
Obs. ID 3837
Color Code Energy: Red 0.95-1.26 keV, Green 1.63-2.26
keV, Blue 4.1-6.1 keV
Instrument ACIS
Also Known As SN 1572
References J. Warren et al. 2005, The Astrophysical J. (In
press) see also Astro-ph/0507478.
Distance Estimate About 7,500 light years
Release Date September 22, 2005
In 1572, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe observed and studied the
explosion of a star that became known as Tycho's Supernova. More than
four centuries later, Chandra's image of the supernova remnant shows an
expanding bubble of multimillion degree debris (green and red) inside a more
rapidly moving shell of extremely high energy electrons (filamentary blue).
The supersonic expansion (about six million miles per hour) of the stellar
debris has created two X-ray emitting shock waves - one moving outward into
the interstellar gas, and another moving back into the debris.
Top 10 Facts about
#10 - Chandra flies 200 times higher than Hubble - more than
1/3 of the way to the moon!
#9 - Chandra can observe X-rays from clouds of gas so vast
that it takes light five million years to go from one side to the
#8 - During maneuvers from one target to the next, Chandra
slews more slowly than the minute hand on a clock.
#7 - At 45 feet long, Chandra is the largest satellite the shuttle
has ever launched!
Top 10 Facts about
#6 - If Colorado were as smooth as Chandra's mirrors, Pikes
Peak would be less than one inch tall!
#5 - Chandra's resolving power is equivalent to the ability to
read a stop sign at a distance of twelve miles.
#4 - The electrical power required to operate the Chandra
spacecraft and instruments is 2 kilowatts, about the same
power as a hair dryer.
Top 10 Facts about
#3 - The light from some of the quasars observed by Chandra
will have been traveling through space for ten billion years.
#2 - STS-93, the space mission that deployed Chandra, was
the first NASA shuttle mission commanded by a woman.
#1 - Chandra can observe X-rays from particles up to the last
second before they fall into a black hole!!!
Special Features
Animations and Video
PowerPoint presentations
Summer Opportunities
“Chandra and the X-Ray Universe”
June 26-30, 2006 in Carson City NV
July 27-31, 2006 at McDonald Observatory, Ft
Davis, TX.