We often share incredible pictures from Hubble and Perseverance. But what is NASA’s Chandra Observatory up to? Let’s take a look and find out.
The wonders of outer space never cease to amaze, and after looking at a bunch of stunning x-rays from NASA’s Chandra Observatory, that point is further reinforced. Thanks to the hard work of NASA, the ESA, SpaceX, and countless other organizations in the space field, charting the universe is more amazing today than it’s ever been. Between advanced rockets, rovers, telescopes, and more, the tools at humanity’s disposal are nothing short of incredible.
As expected, these instruments have led to amazing discoveries in recent years. Since landing on Mars almost a year ago, the Perseverance rover has collected multiple rock samples and confirmed key details about the Jezero Crater. NASA’s preparing a mission to see if Venus had ancient oceans, the James Webb Telescope is set to begin science observations this summer, and Hubble continues sharing gorgeous photos of the universe over 30 years after launch.
On February 2, NASA decided to check in with something that often goes overlooked — the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Launched in July 1999, Chandra is a space telescope that detects x-ray emissions from some of the hottest parts of the universe. Using Chandra’s x-ray data, combined with “different types of light from telescopes on the ground,” NASA created a series of jaw-dropping photos you aren’t likely to forget any time soon. The first photo (seen above) showcases Cassiopeia A. Cassiopeia A is the remnant of a supernova and provides insight about “how individual elements from the exploded star are being cast off into space.” X-ray data from Chandra reveals a variety of ingredients in Cassiopeia A. Red indicates silicon, yellow spots in the image are sulfur, green hues are calcium, and light purple traces indicate iron.
More Incredible X-Rays From Chandra
But Cassiopeia A isn’t the only X-ray NASA shared. Also captured by the telescope is R Aquarii (seen on the left). R Aquarii is actually a pair of two objects, including a white dwarf star and a “highly variable” red giant. The image shows the two stars orbiting each other, with the white dwarf regularly taking material from the red giant and keeping it for itself. This continued relationship eventually sets off an explosion — something astronomers have seen repeatedly.
Also eye-catching is Abell 2597 (the object on the right). This shows a galaxy cluster deep in space with a “giant central supermassive black hole” at the center of it. NASA says the black hole is pushing gas outward, and as a result, is making huge ‘space bubbles.’ It’s a gorgeous mix of blue, pink, and purple, reinforcing how valuable Chandra can be.
Considering these are things humans won’t ever see with the naked eye, it’s pretty amazing we have technology that allows us to capture them in such exquisite detail. From dancing stars to the leftovers of a supernova, space is loaded with dazzling sights to uncover. And, thanks to instruments like Chandra, finding them is both possible and beautiful.
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