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Astrophysics Branch

Marshall Space Flight Center's Astrophysics Branch uses space and ground-based observatories to peer back to the earliest epochs of the universe, unravel its mysteries, and study the most violent explosions in our galaxy and beyond. Our goal is to help discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved, and search for life on planets around other stars.

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Black hole picture
A growing black hole, called a quasar, is seen at the center of a faraway galaxy in this artist’s concept. Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes discovered swarms of similar quasars hiding in dusty galaxies in the distant universe.

Astrophysics Branch Links:

IXPE: Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry
Chandra X-Ray ObservatoryGamma Ray AstrophysicsLynx X-Ray Observatory

Astrophysics Branch Updates

Coming in Hot — NASA’s Chandra Checks Habitability of Exoplanets
4 min read

This graphic shows a three-dimensional map of stars near the Sun. These stars are close enough that they could be prime targets for direct imaging searches for planets using future telescopes. The blue haloes represent stars that have been observed…

NASA’s Chandra Notices the Galactic Center is Venting
1 min read

These images show evidence for an exhaust vent attached to a chimney releasing hot gas from a region around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, as reported in our latest press release. In the main…

NASA’s Chandra Releases Doubleheader of Blockbuster Hits
1 min read

New movies of two of the most famous objects in the sky — the Crab Nebula and Cassiopeia A — are being released from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Each includes X-ray data collected by Chandra over about two decades. They…

MSFC Scientist Participates in Black Hole Week
1 min read

On 5/9/24 NASA Universe celebrated Black Hole Week with a Q & A session on several NASA social media accounts. Five experts, including Steven Ehlert (ST12), answered over Sixty-five (65) questions was submitted by the general-public about black holes over…

REDSoX Holds Successful PDR at MIT
1 min read

On 3/25/24, Astrophysics Branch scientist, Stephen Bongiorno, presented at the Rocket Experiment Demonstration of a Soft X-ray (REDSoX) Polarimeter preliminary design review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).   REDSoX is a sounding rocket instrument, led by MIT, that plans…