NASA celebrates Chandra X-Ray Observatory’s 10th anniversary

July 24th, 2009 - 4:31 am ICT by IANS  

Hubble Space Telescope Washington, July 24 (Xinhua) NASA said Thursday it will release three new versions of the “classic images” taken by Chandra X-Ray Observatory to commemorate the telescope’s 10th anniversary.
One of the images was released Thursday, while the remaining two, would be released in the next three months.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory was launched aboard the space shuttle, Columbia, and deployed into orbit 10 years ago. It was named in honour of Indian-American physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

These images will provide new data and a more complete view of the objects that Chandra observed in the earlier stages of its mission.

The image that was released Thursday is of E0102-72, the spectacular remains of an exploded star.

“The Great Observatories programme - of which Chandra is a major part - shows how astronomers need as many tools as possible to tackle the big questions out there,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

NASA’s other “Great Observatories” are the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope.

The next image will be released in August and the third image will be released during a symposium “Chandra’s First Decade of Discovery” in Boston, which begins Sep 22.

Chandra has doubled its original five-year mission, ushering in an unprecedented decade of discovery for the high-energy universe. With its unrivaled ability to create high-resolution X-ray images, Chandra has enabled astronomers to investigate phenomena as diverse as comets, black holes, dark matter and dark energy.

The science that has been generated by Chandra - both on its own and in conjunction with other telescopes in space and on the ground - has had a widespread, transformative impact on the 21st century astrophysics.

Chandra has provided the strongest evidence yet that dark matter must exist. It has independently confirmed the existence of dark energy and made spectacular images of titanic explosions produced by matter swirling toward supermassive black holes.

“Chandra’s discoveries are truly astonishing and have made dramatic changes to our understanding of the universe and its constituents,” said Martin Weisskopf, Chandra project scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Alabama.

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