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  • richardmitnick 10:57 am on April 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “NGC 6388: White Dwarf May Have Shredded Passing Planet” 

    NASA Chandra

    April 16, 2015

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/IASF Palermo/M.Del Santo et al; Optical: NASA/STScI
    Release Date April 16, 2015

    A planet may have been ripped apart by a white dwarf star in the outskirts of the Milky Way.

    A white dwarf is the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel.

    Combining data from Chandra and several other telescopes, researchers think a “tidal disruption” may explain what is observed.

    The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Using several telescopes, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers have found evidence that a white dwarf star – the dense core of a star like the Sun that has run out of nuclear fuel – may have ripped apart a planet as it came too close.

    How could a white dwarf star, which is only about the size of the Earth, be responsible for such an extreme act? The answer is gravity. When a star reaches its white dwarf stage, nearly all of the material from the star is packed inside a radius one hundredth that of the original star. This means that, for close encounters, the gravitational pull of the star and the associated tides, caused by the difference in gravity’s pull on the near and far side of the planet, are greatly enhanced. For example, the gravity at the surface of a white dwarf is over ten thousand times higher than the gravity at the surface of the Sun.

    Researchers used the European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) to discover a new X-ray source near the center of the globular cluster NGC 6388.

    ESA Integral
    ESA/INTEGRAL

    Optical observations had hinted that an intermediate-mass black hole with mass equal to several hundred Suns or more resides at the center of NGC 6388. The X-ray detection by INTEGRAL then raised the intriguing possibility that the X-rays were produced by hot gas swirling towards an intermediate-mass black hole.

    In a follow-up X-ray observation, Chandra’s excellent X-ray vision enabled the astronomers to determine that the X-rays from NGC 6388 were not coming from the putative black hole at the center of the cluster, but instead from a location slightly off to one side. A new composite image shows NGC 6388 with X-rays detected by Chandra in pink and visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green, and blue, with many of the stars appearing to be orange or white.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    Overlapping X-ray sources and stars near the center of the cluster also causes the image to appear white.

    With the central black hole ruled out as the potential X-ray source, the hunt continued for clues about the actual source in NGC 6388. The source was monitored with the X-ray telescope on board NASA’s Swift Gamma Ray Burst mission for about 200 days after the discovery by INTEGRAL.

    NASA SWIFT Telescope
    NASA/Swift

    The source became dimmer during the period of Swift observations. The rate at which the X-ray brightness dropped agrees with theoretical models of a disruption of a planet by the gravitational tidal forces of a white dwarf. In these models, a planet is first pulled away from its parent star by the gravity of the dense concentration of stars in a globular cluster. When such a planet passes too close to a white dwarf, it can be torn apart by the intense tidal forces of the white dwarf. The planetary debris is then heated and glows in X-rays as it falls onto the white dwarf. The observed amount of X-rays emitted at different energies agrees with expectations for a tidal disruption event.

    The researchers estimate that the destroyed planet would have contained about a third of the mass of Earth, while the white dwarf has about 1.4 times the Sun’s mass.

    While the case for the tidal disruption of a planet is not iron-clad, the argument for it was strengthened when astronomers used data from the multiple telescopes to help eliminate other possible explanations for the detected X-rays. For example, the source does not show some of the distinctive features of a binary containing a neutron star, such as pulsations or rapid X-ray bursts. Also, the source is much too faint in radio waves to be part of a binary system with a stellar-mass black hole.

    A paper describing these results was published in an October 2014 issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The first author is Melania Del Santo of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), IASF-Palermo, Italy, and the co-authors are Achille Nucita of the Universitá del Salento in Lecce, Italy; Giuseppe Lodato of the Universitá Degli Studi di Milano in Milan, Italy; Luigi Manni and Francesco De Paolis of the Universitá del Salento in Lecce, Italy; Jay Farihi of University College London in London, UK; Giovanni De Cesare of the National Institute for Astrophysics in IAPS-Rome, Italy and Alberto Segreto of the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), IASF-Palermo, Italy.

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:12 pm on March 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “GK Persei: “Mini Supernova” Explosion Could Have Big Impact” 

    NASA Chandra

    March 16, 2015

    GK Persei is a “classical nova,” an outburst produced by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star. Classical novas are considered to be miniature versions of supernova explosions. Astronomers used Chandra to observe differences in GK Persei over a span of nearly 14 years. A new image of GK Persei contains X-rays (blue), optical data (yellow), and radio data (pink).

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIKEN/D.Takei et al; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NRAO/VLA
    Release Date March 16, 2015

    In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand their births, lives, and deaths and how they interact with their surroundings.

    Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have studied one particular explosion that may provide clues to the dynamics of other, much larger stellar eruptions.

    A team of researchers pointed the telescope at GK Persei, an object that became a sensation in the astronomical world in 1901 when it suddenly appeared as one of the brightest stars in the sky for a few days, before gradually fading away in brightness. Today, astronomers cite GK Persei as an example of a “classical nova,” an outburst produced by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star, the dense remnant of a Sun-like star.

    A nova can occur if the strong gravity of a white dwarf pulls material from its orbiting companion star. If enough material, mostly in the form of hydrogen gas, accumulates on the surface of the white dwarf, nuclear fusion reactions can occur and intensify, culminating into a cosmic-sized hydrogen bomb blast. The outer layers of the white dwarf are blown away, producing a nova outburst that can be observed for a period of months to years as the material expands into space.

    Classical novas can be considered to be “miniature” versions of supernova explosions. Supernovas signal the destruction of an entire star and can be so bright that they outshine the whole galaxy where they are found. Supernovas are extremely important for cosmic ecology because they inject huge amounts of energy into the interstellar gas, and are responsible for dispersing elements such as iron, calcium and oxygen into space where they may be incorporated into future generations of stars and planets.

    Although the remnants of supernovas are much more massive and energetic than classical novas, some of the fundamental physics is the same. Both involve an explosion and creation of a shock wave that travels at supersonic speeds through the surrounding gas.

    The more modest energies and masses associated with classical novas means that the remnants evolve more quickly. This, plus the much higher frequency of their occurrence compared to supenovas, makes classical novas important targets for studying cosmic explosions.

    Chandra first observed GK Persei in February 2000 and then again in November 2013. This 13-year baseline provides astronomers with enough time to notice important differences in the X-ray emission and its properties.

    This new image of GK Persei contains X-rays from Chandra (blue), optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (yellow), and radio data from the National Science Foundation’s [NRAO] Very Large Array [VLA](pink). The X-ray data show hot gas and the radio data show emission from electrons that have been accelerated to high energies by the nova shock wave. The optical data reveal clumps of material that were ejected in the explosion. The nature of the point-like source on the lower left is unknown.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO/VLA

    Over the years that the Chandra data span, the nova debris expanded at a speed of about 700,000 miles per hour. This translates to the blast wave moving about 90 billion miles during that period.

    One intriguing discovery illustrates how the study of nova remnants can provide important clues about the environment of the explosion. The X-ray luminosity of the GK Persei remnant decreased by about 40% over the 13 years between the Chandra observations, whereas the temperature of the gas in the remnant has essentially remained constant, at about one million degrees Celsius. As the shock wave expanded and heated an increasing amount of matter, the temperature behind the wave of energy should have decreased. The observed fading and constant temperature suggests that the wave of energy has swept up a negligible amount of gas in the environment around the star over the past 13 years. This suggests that the wave must currently be expanding into a region of much lower density than before, giving clues to stellar neighborhood in which GK Persei resides.

    A paper describing these results appeared in the March 10th issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The authors were Dai Takei (RIKEN, SPring-8 Center Japan), Jeremy Drake (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory), Hiroya Yamaguichi (Goddard Space Flight Center), Patrick Slane (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory), Yasunobu Uchimaya (Rikkyo University, Japan), Satoru Katsuda (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:53 am on March 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “PSR B1509-58: A Young Pulsar Shows its Hand” 2009 

    April 3, 2009

    NASA Chandra

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    Credit NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.
    Release Date April 3, 2009

    A small, dense object only twelve miles in diameter is responsible for this beautiful X-ray nebula that spans 150 light years. At the center of this image made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a very young and powerful pulsar, known as PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short. The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand. In this image, the lowest energy X-rays that Chandra detects are colored red, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are blue. Astronomers think that B1509 is about 1700 years old as measured in Earth’s time-frame (referring to when events are observable at Earth) and is located about 17,000 light years away.

    Neutron stars are created when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse. B1509 is spinning completely around almost 7 times every second and is releasing energy into its environment at a prodigious rate – presumably because it has an intense magnetic field at its surface, estimated to be 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field.

    The combination of rapid rotation and ultra-strong magnetic field makes B1509 one of the most powerful electromagnetic generators in the Galaxy. This generator drives an energetic wind of electrons and ions away from the neutron star. As the electrons move through the magnetized nebula, they radiate away their energy and create the elaborate nebula seen by Chandra.

    In the innermost regions, a faint circle surrounds the pulsar, and marks the spot where the wind is rapidly decelerated by the slowly expanding nebula. In this way, B1509 shares some striking similarities to the famous Crab Nebula. However B1509’s nebula is 15 times wider than the Crab’s diameter of 10 light years.

    Finger-like structures extend to the north, apparently energizing knots of material in a neighboring gas cloud known as RCW 89. The transfer of energy from the wind to these knots makes them glow brightly in X-rays (orange and red features to the upper right). The temperature in this region appears to vary in a circular pattern around this ring of emission, suggesting that the pulsar may be precessing like a spinning top and sweeping an energizing beam around the gas in RCW 89.

    See the full article here.

    Another view

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    Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data. There are many examples of this phenomenon on Earth and in space.

    When an image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of PSR B1509-58 — a spinning neutron star surrounded by a cloud of energetic particles –was released in 2009, it quickly gained attention because many saw a hand-like structure in the X-ray emission. In a new image of the system, X-rays from Chandra in gold are seen along with infrared data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope in red, green and blue. Pareidolia may strike again as some people report seeing a shape of a face in WISE’s infrared data. What do you see?

    NASA Wise Telescope
    WISE

    NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, also took a picture of the neutron star nebula in 2014, using higher-energy X-rays than Chandra.

    NASA NuSTAR

    PSR B1509-58 is about 17,000 light-years from Earth.
    JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the WISE mission for NASA.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:05 pm on March 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “Abell 2597: NASA’s Chandra Observatory Finds Cosmic Showers Halt Galaxy Growth” 

    NASA Chandra

    March 4, 2015

    Media contacts:
    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Janet Anderson
    Marshall Space Flight Center
    256-544-6162
    janet.l.anderson@nasa.gov

    Megan Watzke
    Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.
    617-496-7998
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

    New research shows how an unusual form of cosmic precipitation can affect the growth and evolution of galaxies. Over 200 galaxy clusters were surveyed in this new study using X-ray data from Chandra. These results provide evidence that this precipitation can slow down star formation in galaxies with giant black holes.

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/Michigan State Univ/G.Voit et al; Optical: NASA/STScI & DSS; H-alpha: Carnegie Obs./Magellan/W.Baade Telescope
    Release Date March 4, 2015

    This galaxy cluster comes from a sample of over 200 that were studied to determine how giant black holes at their centers affect the growth and evolution of their host galaxy, as reported in our latest press release. This study revealed that an unusual form of cosmic precipitation enables a feedback loop of cooling and heating, stifling star formation in the middle of these galaxy clusters.

    Abell 2597, shown here, is a galaxy cluster located about one billion light years from Earth. This image contains X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey (yellow) and emission from hydrogen atoms (red) from the Walter Baade Telescope in Chile.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    Magellan 6.5 meter telescopes
    Magellan 6.5 meter Interior
    Walter Baade Telescope

    According to this new study, the regulation of the largest black hole and their host galaxies works as follows: in some galaxies, such as NGC 2597, hot gas is able to quickly cool through radiation and energy loss, in a process called precipitation. The clouds of cool gas that result then fall into the central supermassive black hole, producing jets that heat the gas and prevent further cooling.

    The researchers used Chandra data to estimate how long it should take for the gas to cool at different distances from the black holes in the study. Using that information, they were able to accurately predict the “weather” around each of the black holes.

    They found that the precipitation feedback loop driven by energy produced by the black hole jets prevents the showers of cold clouds from getting too strong. The Chandra data indicate that the regulation of this precipitation has been going on for the last 7 billion years or more.

    While a rain of cool clouds appears to play a key role in regulating the growth of some galaxies, the researchers have found other galaxies where the cosmic precipitation had shut off. The intense heat in these central galaxies, possibly from colliding with another galaxy cluster, likely “dried up” the precipitation around the black hole.

    Evidence was also found, in a few galaxy clusters, that strong bursts of outflows from regions near the black hole may have temporarily shut down precipitation, but the heating is not strong enough to result in conduction. In these cases, further cooling of gas should occur and active precipitation should resume in a few hundred million years.

    A pre-print of the Nature study by Mark Voit (Michigan State University), Megan Donahue (Michigan State), Greg Bryan (Columbia University), and Michael McDonald (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is available online; the study builds on work by Voit and Donahue that was published in the January 20th, 2015 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available online.

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:45 am on February 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra- “NGC 2276: NASA’s Chandra Finds Intriguing Member of Black Hole Family Tree “ 

    NASA Chandra

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/M.Mezcua et al & NASA/CXC/INAF/A.Wolter et al; Optical: NASA/STScI and DSS; Inset: Radio: EVN/VLBI
    Release Date February 25, 2015

    An intriguing object has been found in one of the spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 2276. This source, called NGC 2276-3c, appears to be an intermediate-mass black hole. According to X-ray and radio data, NGC 2276-3c contains about 50,000 times the mass of the Sun.

    A newly discovered object in the galaxy NGC 2276 may prove to be an important black hole that helps fill in the evolutionary story of these exotic objects, as described in our latest press release. The main image in this graphic contains a composite image of NGC 2766 that includes X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) combined with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey (red, green and blue). The inset is a zoom into the interesting source that lies in one of the galaxy’s spiral arms. This object, called NGC 2276-3c, is seen in radio waves (red) in observations from the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network, or EVN.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    European VLBI
    European VLBI

    Astronomers have combined the X-ray and radio data to determine that NGC 2766-3c is likely an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH). As the name suggests, IMBHs are black holes that are larger than stellar mass black holes that contain about five to thirty times the mass of the Sun, but smaller than supermassive black holes that are millions or even billions of solar masses. The researchers estimated the mass of NGC 2766-3c using a well-known relationship between how bright the source is in radio and X-rays, and the mass of the black hole. The X-ray and radio brightness were based on observations with Chandra and the EVN. They found that NGC 2276-3c contains about 50,000 times the mass of the Sun.

    IMBHs are interesting to astronomers because they may be the seeds that eventually evolve into supermassive black holes. They also may be strongly influencing their environment. This latest result on NGC 2276-3c suggests that it may be suppressing the formation of new stars around it. The EVN radio data reveal an inner jet that extends about 6 light years from NGC 2276-3c. Additional observations by the NSF’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) show large-scale radio emission extending out to over 2,000 light years away from the source.

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO/VLA

    A region along the jet extending to about 1,000 light years away from NGC 2766-3c is devoid of young stars. This might provide evidence that the jet has cleared out a cavity in the gas, preventing new stars from forming there. The VLA data also reveal a large population of stars at the edge of the radio emission from the jet. This enhanced star formation could take place either when the material swept out by the jet collides with dust and gas in between the stars in NGC 2276, or when triggered by the merger of NGC 2276 with a dwarf galaxy.

    In a separate study, Chandra observations of this galaxy have also been used to examine its rich population of ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs). Sixteen X-ray sources are found in the deep Chandra dataset seen in this composite image, and eight of these are ULXs including NGC 2276-3c. Chandra observations show that one apparent ULX observed by ESA’s XMM-Newton is actually five separate ULXs, including NGC 2276-3c.

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    This ULX study shows that about five to fifteen solar masses worth of stars are forming each year in NGC 2276. This high rate of star formation may have been triggered by a collision with a dwarf galaxy, supporting the merger idea for the IMBH’s origin.

    The study on NGC 2276-3c was conducted by Mar Mezcua (previously in the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and now at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Tim Roberts (University of Durham, UK), Andrei Lobanov ( Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany), and Andrew Sutton (University of Durham) and will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). A separate paper on the ULX population in NGC 2276 will also appear in MNRAS and the authors on that study are Anna Wolter (National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Milan, Italy), Paolo Esposito (INAF), Michela Mapelli (INAF, Padova), Fabio Pizzolato (University of Milan, Italy), and Emanuele Ripamonti (University of Padova, Italy).

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:32 pm on February 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “G299.2-2.9: Exploded Star Blooms Like a Cosmic Flower” 

    NASA Chandra

    February 12, 2015

    Chandra observations of the supernova remnant G299.2-2.9 reveal important information about this object.The shape of the supernova remnant today gives clues about the explosion that created it about 4,500 years ago. G299.2-2.9 belongs to the class of supernovas known as type 1as. Astronomers are trying to determine the exact mechanisms that produce these particular explosions.

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    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/U.Texas/S.Post et al, Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

    Because the debris fields of exploded stars, known as supernova remnants, are very hot, energetic, and glow brightly in X-ray light, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has proven to be a valuable tool in studying them. The supernova remnant called G299.2-2.9 (or G299 for short) is located within our Milky Way galaxy, but Chandra’s new image of it is reminiscent of a beautiful flower here on Earth.

    G299 was left over by a particular class of supernovas called Type Ia. Astronomers think that a Type Ia supernova is a thermonuclear explosion – involving the fusion of elements and release of vast amounts of energy – of a white dwarf star in a tight orbit with a companion star. If the white dwarf’s partner is a typical, Sun-like star, the white dwarf can become unstable and explode as it draws material from its companion. Alternatively, the white dwarf is in orbit with another white dwarf, the two may merge and can trigger an explosion.

    Regardless of their triggering mechanism, Type Ia supernovas have long been known to be uniform in their extreme brightness, usually outshining the entire galaxy where they are found. This is important because scientists use these objects as cosmic mileposts [“standard candles“], allowing them to accurately measure the distances of galaxies billions of light years away, and to determine the rate of expansion of the Universe.

    Traditional theoretical models of Type Ia supernovas generally predict that these explosions would be symmetric, creating a near perfect sphere as they expand. These models have been supported by results showing that remnants of Type Ia supernovas are more symmetric than remnants of supernovas involving the collapse of massive stars.

    However, astronomers are discovering that some Type Ia supernova explosions may not be as symmetric as previously thought. G299 could be an example of such an “unusual” Type Ia supernova. Using a long observation from Chandra, researchers discovered the shell of debris from the exploded star is expanding differently in various directions.

    In this new Chandra image, red, green, and blue represent low, medium, and high-energy X-rays, respectively, detected by the telescope. The medium energy X-rays include emission from iron and the hard-energy X-rays include emission from silicon and sulfur. The X-ray data have been combined with infrared data from ground-based 2MASS survey that shows the stars in the field of view.

    By performing a detailed analysis of the X-rays, researchers found several clear examples of asymmetry in G299. For example, the ratio between the amounts of iron and silicon in the part of the remnant just above the center is larger than in the part of the remnant just below the center. This difference can be seen in the greener color of the upper region compared to the bluer color of the lower region. Also, there is a strongly elongated portion of the remnant extending to the right. In this region, the relative amount of iron to silicon is similar to that found in the southern region of the remnant.

    The patterns seen in the Chandra data suggest that a very lopsided explosion may have produced this Type Ia supernova. It might also be that the remnant has been expanding into an environment where the medium it encountered was uneven. Regardless of the ultimate explanation, observations of G299 and others like it are showing astronomers just how varied such beautiful cosmic flowers can be.

    A paper describing these results was published in the September 1st, 2014 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, and is available online. The authors are Seth Post and Sangwook Park from the University of Texas at Arlington in Texas; Carles Badenes from the University of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; David Burrows from Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania; John Hughes from Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey; Jae-Joon Lee from the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute; Koji Mori from the University of Miyazaki in Japan and Patrick Slane from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:49 pm on January 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Chandra: “IYL 2015: Chandra Celebrates The International Year of Light” 

    NASA Chandra

    New images are being released to celebrate the International Year of Light 2015. Each image contains X-rays from Chandra, along with data in other types of light from various telescopes.
    These images illustrate how astronomers use different types of light together to get a more complete view of objects in space.

    The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light (IYL) by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this yearlong celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light.

    In many ways, astronomy uses the science of light. By building telescopes that can detect light in its many forms, from radio waves on one end of the “electromagnetic spectrum” to gamma rays on the other, scientists can get a better understanding of the processes at work in the Universe.

    NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory explores the Universe in X-rays, a high-energy form of light. By studying X-ray data and comparing them with observations in other types of light, scientists can develop a better understanding of objects likes stars and galaxies that generate temperatures of millions of degrees and produce X-rays.

    To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a set of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light. From a distant galaxy to the relatively nearby debris field of an exploded star, these images demonstrate the myriad ways that information about the Universe is communicated to us through light.

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    SNR E0519-69.0:
    When a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way, it left behind an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0. Here, multimillion degree gas is seen in X-rays from Chandra (blue). The outer edge of the explosion (red) and stars in the field of view are seen in visible light from Hubble.

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    Messier 51 (M51):
    This galaxy, nicknamed the “Whirlpool,” is a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, located about 30 million light years from Earth. This composite image combines data collected at X-ray wavelengths by Chandra (purple), ultraviolet by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX, blue); visible light by Hubble (green), and infrared by Spitzer (red).

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    MSH 11-62:
    When X-rays, shown in blue, from Chandra and XMM-Newton are joined in this image with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (pink) and visible light data from the [Sloan] Digitized Sky Survey ([S]DSS, yellow), a new view of the region emerges. This object, known as MSH 11-62, contains an inner nebula of charged particles that could be an outflow from the dense spinning core left behind when a massive star exploded.

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    Cygnus A:
    This galaxy, at a distance of some 700 million light years, contains a giant bubble filled with hot, X-ray emitting gas detected by Chandra (blue). Radio data from the NSF’s Very Large Array (red) reveal “hot spots” about 300,000 light years out from the center of the galaxy where powerful jets emanating from the galaxy’s supermassive black hole end. Visible light data (yellow) from both Hubble and the DSS complete this view.

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    RCW 86:
    This supernova remnant is the remains of an exploded star that may have been witnessed by Chinese astronomers almost 2,000 years ago. Modern telescopes have the advantage of observing this object in light that is completely invisible to the unaided human eye. This image combines X-rays from Chandra (pink and blue) along with visible emission from hydrogen atoms in the rim of the remnant, observed with the 0.9-m Curtis Schmidt telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (yellow).

    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech
    Release Date January 22, 2015

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    NASA Galex telescope
    GALEX

    NASA Spitzer Telescope
    Spitzer

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    Australian Telescope Compact Array
    Australia Compact Telescope Array

    Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope
    SDSS Telescope

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    NOAO Curtis Schmidt Telescope Exterior
    NOAO Curtis Schmidt Telescope

    See the full article here.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:58 pm on January 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra   

    From Chandra: “NASA’s Chandra Detects Record-Breaking Outburst from Milky Way’s Black Hole” 

    1


    ESOcast

    Astronomers have observed the largest X-ray flare ever detected from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This event, detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, raises questions about the behavior of this giant black hole and its surrounding environment. The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, is estimated to contain about 4.5 million times the mass of our sun. Astronomers made the unexpected discovery while using Chandra to observe how Sgr A* would react to a nearby cloud of gas known as G2.

    “Unfortunately, the G2 gas cloud didn’t produce the fireworks we were hoping for when it got close to Sgr A*,” said lead researcher Daryl Haggard of Amherst College in Massachusetts. “However, nature often surprises us and we saw something else that was really exciting.”

    On Sept. 14, 2013, Haggard and her team detected an X-ray flare from Sgr A* 400 times brighter than its usual, quiet state. This “megaflare” was nearly three times brighter than the previous brightest X-ray flare from Sgr A* in early 2012. After Sgr A* settled down, Chandra observed another enormous X-ray flare 200 times brighter than usual on Oct. 20, 2014.
    Astronomers estimate that G2 was closest to the black hole in the spring of 2014, 15 billion miles away. The Chandra flare observed in September 2013 was about a hundred times closer to the black hole, making the event unlikely related to G2.

    The researchers have two main theories about what caused Sgr A* to erupt in this extreme way. The first is that an asteroid came too close to the supermassive black hole and was torn apart by gravity. The debris from such a tidal disruption became very hot and produced X-rays before disappearing forever across the black hole’s point of no return, or event horizon. “If an asteroid was torn apart, it would go around the black hole for a couple of hours – like water circling an open drain – before falling in,” said co-author Fred Baganoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “That’s just how long we saw the brightest X-ray flare last, so that is an intriguing clue for us to consider.” If this theory holds up, it means astronomers may have found evidence for the largest asteroid to produce an observed X-ray flare after being torn apart by Sgr A*.

    A second theory is that the magnetic field lines within the gas flowing towards Sgr A* could be tightly packed and become tangled. These field lines may occasionally reconfigure themselves and produce a bright outburst of X-rays. These types of magnetic flares are seen on the sun, and the Sgr A* flares have similar patterns of intensity. “The bottom line is the jury is still out on what’s causing these giant flares from Sgr A*,” said co-author Gabriele Ponti of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. “Such rare and extreme events give us a unique chance to use a mere trickle of infalling matter to understand the physics of one of the most bizarre objects in our galaxy.”

    In addition to the giant flares, the G2 observing campaign with Chandra also collected more data on a magnetar: a neutron star with a strong magnetic field, located close to Sgr A*. This magnetar is undergoing a long X-ray outburst, and the Chandra data are allowing astronomers to better understand this unusual object.

    These results were presented at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society being held in Seattle.

    This article is from email received today from hqnews@newsletters.nasa.gov. If you want the latest and greatest, sign up for NASA newsletters.

    Another Chandra image of Sgr A*

    sgr

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:51 pm on December 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra   

    From Chandra: “Perseus A: A Monster Galaxy at the Heart of Perseus Cluster” 2008 

    NASA Chandra

    August 20, 2008

    The active galaxy NGC 1275 is also a well-known radio source (Perseus A) and a strong emitter of X-rays due to the presence of a black hole in the center of the galaxy. The behemoth also lies at the center of the cluster of galaxies known as the Perseus Cluster. By combining multi-wavelength images into a single composite, the dynamics of the galaxy are more easily visible. Detail and structure from x-ray, optical and radio wavelengths combine for an aesthetically pleasing, but nonetheless violent depiction of events going on at the heart of the galaxy.

    1
    NGC 1275 (Perseus A)
    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/IoA/A.Fabian et al.; Radio: NRAO/VLA/G. Taylor; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA) & Univ. of Cambridge/IoA/A. Fabian
    Release Date August 20, 2008
    Observation Date August 08 & 10, 2002

    pc
    An accumulation of 270 hours of Chandra observations of the central regions of the Perseus galaxy cluster reveals evidence of the turmoil that has wracked the cluster for hundreds of millions of years. One of the most massive objects in the universe, the cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in a vast cloud of multimillion degree gas with the mass equivalent of trillions of suns. Enormous bright loops, ripples, and jet-like streaks are apparent in the image. The dark blue filaments in the center are likely due to a galaxy that has been torn apart and is falling into NGC 1275, a.k.a. Perseus A, the giant galaxy that lies at the center of the cluster.

    Chandra data from the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) covers X-ray energies from 0.3-7keV. Hubble data from the Advanced Camera for Surveys covers optical wavelengths in the red, green and blue. Radio data from NRAO’s Very Large Array at 328 MHz was also used. In the composite image, the X-ray data contribute to the soft violet shells around the outside of the center. The pinkish lobes toward the center of the galaxy are from radio frequencies. The radio emission, tracing jets from the black hole, fills the X-ray cavities. Dust lanes, star-forming regions, hydrogen filaments, foreground stars, and background galaxies are contributions from the Hubble optical data.

    NASA Chandra ACIS
    NASA/Chandra ACIS

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA Hubble schematic
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    NASA Hubble ACS
    Hubble ACS

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:45 pm on December 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Chandra   

    From Chandra: “Chandra Weighs Most Massive Galaxy Cluster in Distant Universe” 

    NASA Chandra

    The most distant massive galaxy cluster, located about 9.6 billion light years from Earth, has been found and studied. Astronomers nicknamed this object the “Gioello” (Italian for “Jewel”) Cluster.
    Using Chandra data, researchers were able to accurately determine the mass and other properties of this cluster. Results like this help astronomers understand how galaxy clusters have evolved over time.

    copm
    Composite

    xray
    X-Ray

    infra
    Infrared

    opt
    Optical
    Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/P.Tozzi, et al; Optical: NAOJ/Subaru and ESO/VLT; Infrared: ESA/Herschel
    Release Date December 18, 2014

    A newly discovered galaxy cluster is the most massive one ever detected with an age of 800 million years or younger. Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have accurately determined the mass and other properties of this cluster, as described in our latest press release. This is an important step in understanding how galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity, have evolved over time.

    A composite image shows the distant and massive galaxy cluster that is officially known as XDCP J0044.0-2033. Researchers, however, have nicknamed it “Gioiello”, which is Italian for “jewel”. They chose this name because an image of the cluster contains many sparkling colors from the hot, X-ray emitting gas and various star-forming galaxies within the cluster. Also, the research team met to discuss the Chandra data for the first time at Villa il Gioiello, a 15th century villa near the Observatory of Arcetri, which was the last residence of prominent Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. In this new image of the Gioiello Cluster, X-rays from Chandra are purple, infrared data from ESA’s Hershel Space Telescope appear as large red halos around some galaxies, and optical data from the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii are red, green, and blue.

    ESA Herschel
    ESA Herschel schematic
    ESA/Herschel

    NAOJ Subaru Telescope
    NAOJ Subaru Telescope interior

    Astronomers first detected the Gioiello Cluster, located about 9.6 billion light years away, using ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory. They were then approved to study the cluster with Chandra in observations that were equivalent to over four days of time. This is the deepest X-ray observation yet made on a cluster beyond a distance of about 8 billion light years.

    ESA XMM Newton
    ESA XMM-Newton schematc
    ESA/XMM-Newton

    The long observing time allowed the researchers to gather enough X-ray data from Chandra that, when combined with scientific models, provides an accurate weight of the cluster. They determined that the Gioiello Cluster contains a whopping 400 trillion times the mass of the Sun.

    Previously, astronomers had found an enormous galaxy cluster, known as “El Gordo,” at a distance of 7 billion light years away and a few other large, distant clusters. According to the best current model for how the Universe evolved, there is a low chance of finding clusters as massive as the Gioiello Cluster and El Gordo. The new findings suggest that there might be problems with the theory, and are enticing astronomers to look for other distant and massive clusters.

    e
    El Gordo consists of two separate galaxy subclusters colliding at several million
    kilometres per hour.

    These results are being published in The Astrophysical Journal available online. The first author is Paolo Tozzi, from the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Florence, Italy. The co-authors are Johana Santos, also from INAF in Florence, Italy; James Jee from the University of California in Davis; Rene Fassbender from INAD in Rome, Italy; Piero Rosati from the University of Ferrara in Ferrara, Italy; Alessandro Nastasi from the University of Paris-Sud, in Orsay, France; William Forman from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, MA; Barbara Sartoris and Stefano Borgani from the University of Trieste in Trieste, Italy; Hans Boehringer from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany; Bruno Altieri from the European Space Agency in Madrid, Spain; Gabriel Pratt from CEA Saclay in Cedex, France; Mario Nonino from the University of Trieste in Trieste, Italy and Christine Jones from CfA.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

     
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