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NASA’s Chandra Answers Black Hole Paradox June 22, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, Illustration, NASA, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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GRO J1655-40


 Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray Spectrum: NASA/CXC/U.Michigan/J.Miller et al


The X-ray spectrum (see inset) of a binary star system consisting of a black hole and a normal star indicates that turbulent winds of multimillion degree gas are swirling around the black hole. As the illustration shows, much of the hot gas is spiraling inward toward the black hole, but about 30% is blowing away.

The temperature and intensity of the winds imply that powerful magnetic fields must be present. These magnetic fields, likely carried by the gas flowing from the companion star, create magnetic turbulence that generates friction in the gaseous disk and drive winds from the disk that carry momentum outward as the gas falls inward. Magnetic friction also heats the gas in the inner part of the disk to X-ray emitting temperatures.

The analysis of the disk wind of GRO J1655-40, or J1655 for short, confirmed what astronomers had long suspected, namely that magnetic friction is central to understanding how black holes accrete matter rapidly. Without a process to take away some of the angular momentum of the gas, it could remain in orbit around a black hole for a very long time.
J1655 is a binary system that harbors a black hole with a mass seven times that of the sun, which is pulling matter from a normal star about twice as massive as the sun. The Chandra observation revealed a bright X-ray source whose spectrum showed dips produced by absorption from a wide variety of atoms ranging from oxygen to nickel. A detailed study of these absorption features shows that the atoms are highly ionized and are moving away from the black hole in a high-speed wind.

Understanding the importance of magnetic forces in the disk of gas around J1655 could have far-reaching implications, from the supermassive black holes associated with powerful quasars, to planet-forming disks around young sun-like stars.


Dusty Death of a Massive Star June 7, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, JPL, NASA, Small Magellanic Cloud, Space Fotos, Supernova.
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Dusty Death of a Massive Star
Mission: Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Spacecraft: Hubble Space Telescope
Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Chandra X-ray Telescope
Instrument: Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)
Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS)
Product Size: 1778 samples x 1778 lines
Produced By: California Institute of Technology
Full-Res TIFF: PIA08516.tif (9.498 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA08516.jpg (553.1 kB)


NASA/JPL-Caltech/ UC Berkeley


Click here for poster version of PIA08516 Click here for Visible-Light Image
Dusty Supernova Remnant Poster
Figure 1
X-ray, Visible, Infrared
Figure 2

The supernova remnant1E0102.2-7219 (see inset in figure 1) sits next to the nebula N76 in a bright, star-forming region of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy located about 200,000 light-years from Earth. A supernova remnant is made up of the messy bits and pieces of a massive star that exploded, or went supernova. The image on the right shows glowing dust grains in three wavelengths of infrared radiation: 24 microns (red) measured by the multiband imaging photometer aboard NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope; and 8.0 microns (green) and 3.6 microns (blue) measured by Spitzer’s infrared array camera. The red bubble is a dust envelope around the supernova remnant E0102, which is being heated by the shock wave created in the explosion of the remnant’s massive progenitor star some 1,000 years ago. Most of the blue stars are in the Small Magellanic Cloud, though some are in our own galaxy.

The close-up of E0102 (figure 2) is a composite of the infrared observations by Spitzer (red), an optical image (0.5 microns) captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (green), and X-ray measurements by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue). The X-ray ring is generated when the reverse shock slams into stellar material that was expelled during the explosion

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J0617 in IC 443 Animations June 1, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, NASA, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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Chandra X-ray: NASA/CXC/B.Gaensler et al; ROSAT X-ray: NASA/ROSAT/Asaoka & Aschenbach; Radio Wide: NRC/DRAO/D.Leahy; Radio Detail: NRAO/VLA; Optical: DSS


Beginning with a wide-field view of the supernova remnant IC 443, this sequence moves into a closer look at the neutron star embedded within known as J0617. The images show these objects in X-rays (blue), radio (green), and optical (red). The location and orientation of J0617's wake are mysterious for astronomers who would have expected it to be aligned toward the center of IC 443.
[Runtime: 0:32]

J0617 in IC 443: The Case of the Neutron Star With a Wayward Wake June 1, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, NASA, Space Agencies, Space Fotos.
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J0617 in IC 443


Chandra X-ray: NASA/CXC/B.Gaensler et al; ROSAT X-ray: NASA/ROSAT/Asaoka & Aschenbach; Radio Wide: NRC/DRAO/D.Leahy; Radio Detail: NRAO/VLA; Optical: DSS


This wide-field composite image was made with X-ray (blue/ROSAT & Chandra), radio (green/Very Large Array), and optical (red/Digitized Sky Survey) observations of the supernova remnant, IC 443. The pullout, also a composite with a Chandra X-ray close-up, shows a neutron star that is spewing out a comet-like wake of high-energy particles as it races through space.

Based on an analysis of the swept-back shape of the wake, astronomers deduced that the neutron star known as CXOU J061705.3+222127, or J0617 for short, is moving through the multimillion degree Celsius gas in the remnant. However, this conclusion poses a mystery.

Although there are other examples where neutron stars have been located far away from the center of the supernova remnant, these neutron stars appear to be moving radially away from the center of the remnant. In contrast, the wake of J0617 seems to indicate it is moving almost perpendicularly to that direction.

One possible explanation is that the doomed progenitor star was moving at a high speed before it exploded, so that the explosion site was not at the observed center of the supernova remnant. Fast-moving gusts of gas inside the supernova remnant may have further pushed the pulsar's wake out of alignment. An analogous situation is observed for comets, where a wind of particles from the Sun pushes the comet tail away from the Sun, out of alignment with the comet's motion.

If this is what is happening, then observations of the neutron star with Chandra in the next 10 years should show a detectable motion away from the center of the supernova remnant.

GRO J1655-40: Evidence for a Spinning Black Hole May 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, Illustration, NASA, Satellite, Space Fotos.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Drawing Credit:

A. Hobart, CXC


In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole. Studies of the bright light emitted by the swirling gas frequently indicate not only that a black hole is present, but also likely attributes. The gas surrounding GRO J1655-40, for example, has been found to display an unusual flickering at a rate of 450 times a second. Given a previous mass estimate for the central object of seven times the mass of our Sun, the rate of the fast flickering can be explained by a black hole that is rotating very rapidly. What physical mechanisms actually cause the flickering — and a slower quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) — in accretion disks surrounding black holes and neutron stars remains a topic of much research.

A, B, C, D, Electric Solar System May 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Aurora, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Jupiter, NASA, Planets, SAO, Space Fotos, TPOD.
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NASA investigators now recognize that Jupiter's auroras are electrical phenomena. But they are struggling to understand the electrical connections of the aurora's "tails" to other bodies in the Jovian system—not just to Jupiter's closest moon Io, but also to its second moon Europa.

For almost two years now, we have been making the case in these pages that the "volcanic"plumes on Jupiter's moon Io are plasma discharge arcs from the moon's electrical transactions with the gas giant. In recent years a growing number of scientists have acknowledged the electrical exchange between the two bodies, as confirmed by Io's "footprint" in the Jovian aurora above.

But now a new study reports that one of the bright spots in this aurora is the footprint of a continuous electrical exchange between Jupiter and another moon, Europa. In October of 2005, the journal Geophysical Research Letters published a report from a research team headed by Denis Grodent of the University of Liège, Belgium, noting the team's discovery of a short auroral tail linking Jupiter to Europa. The report notes that this footprint is similar to that of Io, but less energetic. Grodent's team based its report on a study of 45 Hubble images of the Jovian aurora showing Europa's footprint and its swirling "tail".

In previous attempts to explain the electrical connection of Io to Jupiter, astronomers suggested that Jupiter's tidal influence on Io provoked the release of the observed charged particles in Io''s "volcanic" plumes. The particles then flowed as an electric current to Jupiter, as evidenced by the glowing electrical signature (footprint) in the gas giant's aurora. But in electrical terms this supposed one way transaction could not be valid, and it left Europa dangling in "neutral" space. How would its electric connection to Jupiter be explained?

"…Europa is not thought to be volcanic, so what could produce the electrical current that zips along and eventually gives rise to Europa's auroral footprint?" the writers of the report ask.

Here we meet an old dilemma once again. Standard astronomy begins its investigations with the assumption–usually unspoken—of an electrically neutral universe. So when investigators encounter electrical phenomena, they rely upon local "generators" no matter improbable. And they will ignore the evidence for larger electric circuits that have, in fact, already answered the question posed: the local transactions involve circuits, not one-way paths. And the local circuits are subsidiaries of larger circuits.

In the case of Jupiter, the larger circuit is that between the gas giant and the Sun. In the case of the Sun, the larger circuit connects the Sun to a spiraling arm of the Milky Way. And there is evidence aplenty that galaxies themselves are joined in still larger electrical exchange. Where the hierarchy ends, no one can say. But that it exists is substantiated by every line of investigation that has been opened up in recent decades. There are no isolated islands in space: All objects in space are connected in a web of cosmic circuitry.

An electrical interaction between Jupiter and its moons means that the bodies are charged. (As soon as you grant that one body is charged, the other body is also charged in relationship to it). Jupiter is not an island. It stands in a dynamic electrical relationship to the Sun, just as does the Earth. It is now known that charged particles from the Sun, not a terrestrial "dynamo", power Earth's auroras. The same thing can be said of Jupiter's auroras, though this was as contrary to astronomers' assumptions as was the confirmation of the Sun's input to terrestrial auroras. Work by scientists at the University of Leicester in the UK found “a strong correlation between the strength of the solar wind and the behaviour of [Jupiter’s] auroras". But this was "completely the opposite result to the one we were expecting from our predictions".

Of course, what is surprising or illogical from one vantage point may be "reasoning from the obvious" in another.

A: Jupiter interacts electrically with its moons.

B: Jupiter interacts electrically with the Sun, as does the Earth.

C: The planets in the Solar System are charged bodies.

D: The sun has an electric field.

Suddenly the elephant so long "hidden" in the living room of astrophysics is exposed. Since the sun gives off proton storms, and the protons in the solar wind are being accelerated away from the sun, it should have been obvious all along that the Sun is the center of an electric field…

E. Electrical transactions between the Sun, the planets, and the planets' moons are only to be expected in the Electric Universe.

Electrical connectivity is thus confirmed by every level of investigation; it is not just the reason for Io's "volcanic" plumes; it is the reason why Saturn's moon Enceladus similarly spews out icy particles in high energy jets; it is why Europa and other moon of Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus display vast networks of channels that can only be explained as electric discharge scars; it is why the planets have teardrop shaped Langmuir sheaths; it is why Mars, moving on an orbit more elliptical than Earth's, is periodically overtaken by global dust storms and Everest-sized "dust devils"; it is why the Earth discharges to space through sprites and elves; it is why remote comets discharge so brilliantly as they approach the inner solar system; it is why "asteroids" can become comets if their orbits are sufficiently eccentric; it is why comets sometimes break up as they move through the Sun's electric field.

Once admitted, the Electric Universe will not just alter a few imagined "islands" in space; it will change the picture entirely.

Planetary Nebulas – Fast Winds from Dying Stars May 10, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, JPL, NASA, Nebula, Space Fotos.
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Mz 3
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: BD +30 & Hen 3: NASA/STScI/Univ. MD/J.P.Harrington; Optical: NGC 7027: NASA/STScI/Caltech/J.Westphal & W.Latter; Optical: Mz 3: NASA/STScI/Univ. Washington/B.Balick
JPEG (325.6 kb) Tiff (18.2 MB) PS (2.8 MB)

This panel of composite images shows part of the unfolding drama of the last stages of the evolution of sun-like stars. Dynamic elongated clouds envelop bubbles of multimillion degree gas produced by high-velocity winds from dying stars. In these images, Chandra’s X-ray data are shown in blue, while green and red are optical and infrared data from Hubble.

Planetary nebulas – so called because some of them resemble a planet when viewed through a small telescope – are produced in the late stages of a sun-like star’s life. After several billion years of stable existence (the sun is 4.5 billion years old and will not enter this phase for about 5 billion more years) a normal star will expand enormously to become a bloated red giant. Over a period of a few hundred thousand years, much of the star’s mass is expelled at a relatively slow speed of about 50,000 miles per hour.

Chandra & HST Images of NGC 7027
Chandra & HST Images of NGC 7027

This mass loss creates a more or less spherical cloud around the star and eventually uncovers the star’s blazing hot core. Intense ultraviolet radiation from the core heats the circumstellar gas to ten thousand degrees, and the velocity of the gas flowing away from the star jumps to about a million miles per hour.

This high speed wind appears to be concentrated into opposing supersonic funnels, and produces the elongated shapes in the early development of planetary nebulas (BD+30-3639 appears spherical, but other observations indicate that it is viewed along the pole.) Shock waves generated by the collision of the high-speed gas with the surrounding cloud create the hot bubbles observed by Chandra. The origin of the funnel-shaped winds is not understood. It may be related to strong, twisted magnetic fields near the hot stellar core.

Fast Facts for Mz 3:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/Univ. Washington/B.Balick
Scale  Image is 110 x 75 arcsec
Category  White Dwarfs & Planetary Nebulas
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 16h 17m 12.60s | Dec -51º 59′ 08.00″
Constellation  Norma
Observation Dates  April 1, 2004
Observation Time  11 hours
Obs. ID  4954
Color Code  Energy (X-ray: Blue; Optical: Red & Green)
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As  Menzel 3, Ant Nebula
References  J. Kastner et al. 2003, Astrophys. J. 591, L 37
Distance Estimate  About 3,000 light years
Release Date  May 10, 2006

Great Observatories Present Rainbow of a Galaxy April 25, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, JPL, NASA, Space Fotos, University of Arizona.
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NASA's Spitzer, Hubble and Chandra space observatories teamed up to create  this multi-wavelength, false-colored view of the M82 galaxy. The lively  portrait celebrates Hubble's

Target Name: M82 Galaxy
Mission: Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Spacecraft: Spitzer Space Telescope (SST)
Instrument: Chandra X-ray Telescope
Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)
Visible Light
Product Size: 640 samples x 480 lines
Produced By: California Institute of Technology
Full-Res TIFF: PIA08093.tif (45.01 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA08093.jpg (799.8 kB)

Original Caption Released with Image:

NASA’s Spitzer, Hubble and Chandra space observatories teamed up to create this multi-wavelength, false-colored view of the M82 galaxy. The lively portrait celebrates Hubble’s “sweet sixteen” birthday.

X-ray data recorded by Chandra appears in blue; infrared light recorded by Spitzer appears in red; Hubble’s observations of hydrogen emission appear in orange, and the bluest visible light appears in yellow-green.

About the Movie
M82 is shown in all its wavelength glory. Dissolving from Chandra X-ray Observatory images of three X-ray energy bands to images in three bands of the infrared spectrum taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, and ending with the Hubble Space Telescope’s visible- and near-infrared-light image. The three observatories’ images were composited to reveal the galaxy’s stars, as well as gas and dust features.

Note: The size of the Full-Res TIFF for the still image is 4299 samples x 3490 lines.

Image Credit:

4C37.43: Chandra Finds Evidence for Quasar Ignition March 23, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, Space Fotos.
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4C 37.43
Credit: Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss; X-ray inset: NASA/CXC/U.Hawaii/A.Stockton et al.
JPEG (351.4 kb) Tiff (24 MB) PS (2.8 MB)

An artist’s illustration depicts a quasar in the center of a galaxy that has turned on and is expelling gas at high speeds in a galactic superwind. Clouds of hot, X-ray producing gas detected by Chandra around the quasars 4C37.43 (shown in the inset) and 3C249.1, provide strong evidence for such superwinds.

The X-ray features seen at five, six, ten and eleven o’clock in the 4C37.43 image are located tens of thousands of light years from the central supermassive black hole that powers the quasar. They are likely due to shock waves in the superwind.

Chandra X-ray Image of 4C37.43
Chandra X-ray Image of 4C37.43 with Labels

Mergers of galaxies are a possible cause for the ignition, or turn-on, of quasars. Computer simulations show that a galactic merger drives gas toward the central region where it triggers a burst of star formation and provides fuel for the growth of a central black hole.

The inflow of gas into the black hole releases tremendous energy, and a quasar is born. The power output of the quasar dwarfs that of the surrounding galaxy and pushes gas out of the galaxy in a galactic superwind.

Over a period of about 100 million years, the superwind will drive most of the gas away from the central regions of the galaxy, quenching both star formation and further supermassive black hole growth. The quasar phase will end and the galaxy will settle down to a relatively quiet life.

NGC 2841: Galactic Chimneys Turn Up the Heat March 19, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Chandra X-ray Observatory, Deep Space, NASA, Space Fotos.
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NGC 2841
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/U. Mass/Q.D.Wang; Optical: NOAO/KPNO
JPEG (223.3 kb) Tiff (4.7 MB) PS (2.8 MB)

This X-ray/optical composite image of the large spiral galaxy NGC 2841 shows multimillion degree gas (blue/X-ray) rising above the disk of stars and cooler gas (gray/optical).

The rapid outflows of gas from giant stars, and supernova explosions in the disk of a galaxy create huge shells or bubbles of hot gas that expand rapidly and rise above the disk like plumes of smoke from a chimney. Chandra’s image of NGC 2841 provides direct evidence for this process, which pumps energy into the thin gaseous halo that surrounds the galaxy. Galactic chimneys also spread hot, metal enriched gas away from the disk of the galaxy into the halo.

Fast Facts for NGC 2841:
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/U. Mass/Q.D.Wang; Optical: NOAO/KPNO
Scale  Image is 5.75 arcmin across
Category  Normal Galaxies & Starburst Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 09h 22m 02.60s | Dec +50º 58′ 35.50″
Constellation  Ursa Major
Observation Dates  December 18, 2004
Observation Time  8 hours
Obs. ID  6096
Color Code  X-ray: Blue, Optical: Gray/White
Instrument  ACIS
Distance Estimate  About 50 million light years
Release Date  March 06, 2006
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