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2003 Chandra X-Ray Observatory Photos
Chandra image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4261 + Medium (720 x 462, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the elliptical galaxy NGC 4261 reveals dozens of black holes and neutron stars strung out across tens of thousands of light years like beads on a necklace. The spectacular structure, which is not apparent from the optical image of the galaxy, is thought to be the remains of a collision between galaxies a few billion years ago. According to this interpretation, a smaller galaxy was captured and pulled apart by the gravitational tidal forces of NGC 4261. As the doomed galaxy fell into the larger galaxy, large streams of gas were pulled out into long tidal tails. Shock waves in these tidal tails triggered the formation of many massive stars. + Read More

Illustration and Chandra image, upper left, of the quasar GB1508+5714 + Large (3000 x 3218, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 556, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the quasar GB1508+5714 reveals a jet of high-energy particles that extends more than 100,000 light years from the supermassive black hole powering the quasar. At a distance of 12 billion light years from Earth, this is the most distant jet ever detected. The discovery of this jet is especially significant because it provides astronomers with a way to measure the intensity of the cosmic background radiation about one billion years after the Big Bang. + Read More

Chandra image of the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 + Large (4104 x 4267, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (623 x 648, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

A series of NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory images of the spiral galaxy NGC 1637 has provided a dramatic view of a violent, restless nature that belies the galaxy's serene optical image. Over a span of 21 months, intense neutron star and black hole X-ray sources flashed on and off, giving the galaxy the appearance of a cosmic Christmas tree. Erratic, volatile behavior is a common characteristic of neutron stars or black holes that orbit normal companion stars. Gas ripped off the normal star falls toward the compact star where the gas is compressed and heated by gravitational fields billions of times stronger than on the surface of the Sun. This process generates powerful X-radiation that can flare up and subside in a matter of seconds. + Read More

Composite image of the M86 galaxy + Large (2783 x 4267, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 1104, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

A new image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals that one galaxy's loss is a galaxy cluster's gain. The composite image of M86 -- X-ray in blue and optical in yellow -- shows gas being swept out of the galaxy to form a long tail more than two hundred thousand light years in length. Located in the Virgo galaxy cluster, this giant, elliptical galaxy is moving at about 3 million miles per hour through diffuse hot gas that pervades the cluster. The supersonic motion of M86 produces a "ram pressure" that is stripping gas from the galaxy and forming the spectacular tail. + Read More

Illustration of a spinning black hole + Large (3150 x 2291, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 524, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

Chandra and XMM-Newton observations of iron atoms in the hot gas orbiting three stellar black holes have allowed astronomers to investigate the gravitational effects and spin of these black holes. For example, as shown in the illustration, the gravity of a black hole shifts X-rays from iron atoms to lower energies, producing a strongly skewed X-ray signal. The orbit of a particle near a black hole depends on the curvature of space around the black hole, which also depends on how fast the black hole is spinning. A spinning black hole drags space around with it and allows atoms to orbit nearer to the black hole than is possible for a non-spinning black hole. The tighter orbit means stronger gravitational effects, which means that more of the X-rays from iron atoms are shifted to lower energies. + Read More

Chandra image of the 
Moon + Large (3150 x 1685, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 385, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

NASA Chandra X-ray observations, right, of the bright portion of the Moon detected X-rays from oxygen, magnesium, aluminum and silicon atoms. The X-rays are produced by fluorescence when solar X-rays bombard the Moon's surface. According to the currently popular "giant impact" theory for the formation of the Moon, a body about the size of Mars collided with the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. This impact flung molten debris from the mantle of both the Earth and the impactor into orbit around the Earth. Over the course of tens of millions of years, the debris stuck together to form the Moon. Measuring the amount and distribution of aluminum and other elements over a wide area of the Moon will help to test the giant impact theory. + Read More

Sound waves from the black hole in the Perseus cluster + Large (2263 x 1217, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 387, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

A 53-hour NASA Chandra X-ray observation of the central region of the Perseus galaxy cluster, left, has revealed wavelike features, right, that appear to be sound waves. The features were discovered by using a special image-processing technique to bring out subtle changes in brightness. These sound waves are thought to have been produced by explosive events occurring around a supermassive black hole, seen in the bright white spot, in Perseus A, the huge galaxy at the center of the cluster. The pitch of the sound waves translates into the note of B flat, 57 octaves below middle-C. This frequency is over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing, so the sound is much too deep to be heard. + Read More

Illustration of Ripples in Perseus + Large (2263 x 1217, 72 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 387, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

An artist's illustration depicts the sound waves, or ripples, in the hot gas that fills the Perseus cluster. Key elements of the system are labeled in the version on the right. The ripple features were discovered by using a special image-processing technique to bring out subtle changes in brightness. These sound waves are thought to have been generated by cavities blown out by jets from a supermassive black hole (bright white spot) at the center of the Perseus cluster. + Read More

Chandra image of the 
Horseshoe Nebula + Large (2250 x 2250, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 720, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

An image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals hot gas flowing away from massive young stars in the center of the Horseshoe Nebula, also known as M17 or the Omega Nebula. A group of massive young stars responsible for the activity in the nebula is located in the bright pink region near the center of the image. Chandra's resolving power enabled astronomers to separate the contribution of these and other stars in the nebula from X-rays produced by the hot gas flow, which is shown in red. Temperatures in the hot gas flow range from 1.5 million degrees Celsius (2.7 million degrees Fahrenheit) to about 7 million degrees Celsius (13 million degrees Fahrenheit). The blue color indicates areas where stars are embedded in clouds of dust and gas that absorb low energy X-rays. + Read More

Chandra image of the 
globular star cluster NGC 6266 + Large (2263 x 1217, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 387, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

Chandra's unique ability to precisely locate and resolve individual X-ray sources in 12 globular clusters in our galaxy has given astronomers a crucial clue as to the origin of these sources, including two clusters known as NGC 6266 (or M62) and NGC 7099 (or M28). A globular cluster is a spherical collection of hundreds of thousands and even millions of stars buzzing around each other in a gravitationally bound stellar beehive that is about a hundred light years in diameter. The stars in a globular cluster are often only about a tenth of a light year apart. For comparison, the nearest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away. + Read More

Composite image of the 
galaxy NGC 1068 + Large (2400 x 2462, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (576 x 591, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

This composite X-ray, shown in blue and green, and optical, shown in red, image of the active galaxy, NGC 1068, shows gas blowing away in a high-speed wind from the vicinity of a central supermassive black hole. Regions of intense star formation in the inner spiral arms of the galaxy are highlighted by both optical and X-ray emission. The elongated shape of the gas cloud is thought to be due to the funneling effect of a torus, or doughnut-shaped cloud, of cool gas and dust that surrounds the black hole. The torus, which appears as the elongated white spot in the accompanying three-color X-ray images, has a mass of about 5 million Suns. Radio observations indicate that the torus extends from within a few light years of the black hole out to about 300 light years. + Read More

Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/UCSB/P.Ogle et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/A.Capetti et al. Reference: P. Ogle et al. 2003 Astronomy and Astrophysics, 402, 849

Chandra image of the 
Vela pulsar + Large (2271 x 1821, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (640 x 480, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory images in this montage show the erratic variability of a jet of high-energy particles that is associated with the Vela pulsar, a rotating neutron star. These images are part of a series of 13 images made over a period of two and a half years that has been used to make a time-lapse movie of the motion of the jet. + Read More

Chandra Deep Field North + Large (2250 x 2250, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 720, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The Chandra X-ray Observatory Deep Field North image was made by observing an area of the sky one-fifth the size of the full moon for 23 days. It is the most sensitive or "deepest" X-ray exposure ever made. The faintest sources produced only one X-ray photon every four days. More than 500 X-ray sources are present in this high-energy core sample of the early universe. Most of the sources are supermassive black holes located in the centers of galaxies. If the number of supermassive black holes seen in this patch of the sky is typical, the total number detectable over the whole sky at this level of sensitivity would be 300 million. + Read More

Chandra image of the 
galaxy cluster Abell 2029 + Large (2263 x 1208, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 384, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The galaxy cluster Abell 2029 is composed of thousands of galaxies, shown in the optical images, right, enveloped in a gigantic cloud of hot gas, shown in the X-ray image, left, and an amount of dark matter equivalent to more than a hundred trillion Suns. At the center of this cluster is an enormous, elliptically shaped galaxy thought to have been formed from the mergers of many smaller galaxies. + Read More

Artist's conception of TW Hydrae, left, and HD 98800A, right. + Large (2400 x 2400, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (576 x 576, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The striking Chandra X-ray Observatory image of supernova remnant, SNR 0103-72.6, reveals a nearly perfect ring about 150 light years in diameter surrounding a cloud of gas enriched in oxygen and shock-heated to millions of degrees Celsius. The ring marks the outer limits of a shock wave produced as material ejected in the supernova explosion flows into the interstellar gas. The size of the ring indicates that we see the supernova remnant as it was about 10,000 years after its progenitor star exploded. + Read More

Artist's conception of TW Hydrae, left, and HD 98800A, right. + Large (2236 x 1292, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 411, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

An artist's conception shows TW Hydrae, left, and HD 98800Aright, two young star systems that are members of the TW Hydrae stellar association, which formed about 10 million years ago. Observations of their X-ray spectra by the Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed that, although both stars were formed in the same region of space at the same time, they produce X-rays by different mechanisms. + Read More

Chandra image of the galaxies NGC 4485 and NGC 4490 + Medium (500 x 500, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

NGC 4485 and NGC 4490 are two of the 90 galaxies surveyed in a study of the ultra-luminous X-ray source (ULX) population of nearby galaxies. This image, taken with the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer onboard NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows numerous bright X-ray sources within clouds of cooler gas. Five of these point-like sources are potential LXs --- candidates for intermediate-mass black holes. Blue colors in this image represent hotter, high-energy, emission while red colors denote cooler, low-energy, X-rays.

Composite image of Stephan's Quintet + Large (2236 x 1292, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 411, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

Chandra X-ray Observatory images of two distant massive galaxies show they are enveloped by vast clouds of high-energy particles that are evidence for past explosive activity. In both galaxies radio and X-ray jets allow this activity to be traced back to central supermassive black holes. The jets are heating gas outside the galaxies in regions hundreds of thousands of light years across. The Chandra data will help scientists understand how nature imposes a weight limit on the growth of the most massive galaxies in the universe. These galaxies reside in regions of space that contain an unusually large concentration of galaxies, gas and dark matter. + Read More

Composite image of Stephan's Quintet + Large (2250 x 2250, 300 ppi
+ Medium (720 x 720, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

The hurly-burly interactions in the compact group of galaxies known as Stephan's Quintet are shown in the upper left where a Chandra X-ray Observatory image, in blue, is superimposed on a Digitized Sky Survey optical image, in yellow. Shock-heated gas, visible only with an X-ray telescope, appears as a bright blue cloud oriented vertically in the middle of the image and has a temperature of about 6 million degrees Celsius. The heating is produced by the rapid motion of a spiral galaxy intruder located immediately to the right of the shock wave in the center of the image, as shown in the galaxy labeled B in the wide field optical image on the lower right. + Read More

Composite image of Centaurus A Jet + Large (2267 x 1758, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 558, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

A composite X-ray and radio image shows the inner 4,000 light years of a magnetized jet in the Centaurus A galaxy. The Chandra X-ray Observatory image is shown in blue, while the Very Large Array (VLA) radio image is shown in red. Purple regions are bright in both radio and X-ray. The jet originates from the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, located in the lower right hand corner of the image. + Read More

Chandra image of the brown dwarf TWA 5B + Large (2242 x 1850, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 594, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

An image from NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory revealed X-rays produced by TWA 5B, a brown dwarf orbiting a young binary star system known as TWA 5A. The star system is 180 light years from the Earth and a member of a group of about a dozen young stars in the constellation Hydra. The brown dwarf orbits the binary star system at a distance about 2.75 times that of Pluto's orbit around the Sun. The sizes of the sources in the image are due to an instrumental effect that causes the spreading of pointlike sources. + Read More

Composite image of the Black Widow Pulsar + Large (2250 x 2250, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 720, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

This composite Chandra X-ray Observatory image, in red and white, and optical, in green and blue, image reveals an elongated cloud, or cocoon, of high-energy particles flowing behind the rapidly rotating pulsar, B1957+20, the white point-like source. The pulsar, also known as the "Black Widow" pulsar, is moving through the galaxy at a speed of almost a million kilometers per hour. A bow shock due to this motion is visible to optical telescopes, shown in the green crescent shape. The pressure behind the bow shock creates a second shock wave that sweeps the cloud of high-energy particles back from the pulsar to form the cocoon. + Read More

Chandra image of NGC 346 + Large (2400 x 2400, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (576 x 576, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

This NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the young star cluster NGC 346 highlights a heart-shaped cloud of 8 million degree Celsius gas in the central region. Evidence from radio, optical and ultraviolet telescopes suggests that the hot cloud, which is about 100 light years across, is the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred thousands of years ago. The progenitor could have been a companion of the massive young star that is responsible for the bright X-ray source at the top center of the image. This young star, HD 5980, one of the most massive known, has been observed to undergo dramatic eruptions during the last decade. + Read More

Chandra image of the M83 spiral galaxy + Large (2250 x 1950, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 624, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

This Chandra X-ray Observatory image of M83 shows numerous point-like neutron star and black hole X-ray sources scattered throughout the disk of this spiral galaxy. The bright nuclear region of the galaxy glows prominently due to a burst of star formation that is estimated to have begun about 20 million years ago in the galaxy's time frame. The observation revealed that the nuclear region contains a much higher concentration of neutron stars and black holes than the rest of the galaxy. Also discovered was a cloud of 7 million degree Celsius gas enveloping the nuclear region. + Read More

Chandra image of Sagittarius A -- the black hole at the Milky Way's center + Large (2250 x 2250, 300 ppi)
+ Medium (720 x 720, 72 ppi)
+ Small (100 x 100, 72 ppi)

This Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way's center, a.k.a. Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*, was made from the longest X-ray exposure of that region to date. In addition to Sgr A* more than two thousand other X-ray sources were detected in the region, making this one of the richest fields ever observed. During the two-week observation period, Sgr A* flared up in X-ray intensity half a dozen or more times. The cause of these outbursts is not understood, but the rapidity with which they rise and fall indicates that they are occurring near the event horizon, or point of no return, around the black hole. + Read More
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Artist's conception of TW Hydrae, left, and HD 98800A, right.
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