Recently, I attended a memorial service for Geoffrey Burbidge, who was my thesis advisor many years ago. He was eulogized for his pioneering work in several fields of astrophysics. In the 1950's, he was the first to determine the enormous energies involved in the giant radio sources, calculations still used today in studying the process of black hole feedback in galaxy clusters. He and his wife Margaret were leaders in documenting violent events occurring in what they called active galactic nuclei, or AGN, as they are commonly called today. They also paved the way for work that eventually led to the conclusion that the universe is dominated by dark matter, a peculiar substance whose nature is still not understood.
This image shows the symbiotic system known as CH Cyg, located only about 800 light years from Earth. The large image shows an optical view of CH Cyg, using the Digitized Sky Survey, and the inset shows a composite image containing Chandra X-ray data in red, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in green, and radio data from the Very Large Array (VLA) in blue.
Yesterday, the 2010 World Science Festival came to a climatic end with its Street Fair. This is the third year for this ambitious science festival that seems to take over Manhattan for several days. This year’s Street Fair spilled out from Washington Square Park into the streets around it.
Like last year, the Street Fair showcased Chandra images as part of the “From Earth to the Universe” project. The FETTU panels were arranged around the fountain in the middle of the park, providing a nice route for people to circle. The mood of the festival’s attendees was excited and upbeat – which is saying something on a very hot and humid day in New York City.
There are a lot of reasons why people like astronomy. For some, it's the topics it covers like black holes, exploded stars, and distant planets. For others, it's the sense of awe that the cosmos inspires. There are also lots of people that just think the images are beautiful and worth gazing at. And, for most, it’s some combination of these and others that make them want to learn more about astronomy.
This week, astronomers have gathered in the balmy city of Miami for the 216th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting. There are some interesting Chandra results – the new image of N49 and the latest on the black hole in Andromeda – but so much more. There has been news on the latest from the WISE mission, new stuff on exoplanets, some spectacular images and movies of the Sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory – and that's just the first two days. Keep an eye on your favorite astronomy news website for the latest.
The large image here shows an optical view, with the Digitized Sky Survey, of the Andromeda Galaxy, otherwise known as M31. The inset shows Chandra X-ray Observatory images of a small region in the center of Andromeda. The image on the left shows the sum of 23 images taken with Chandra's High Resolution Camera (HRC) before January 2006 and the image on the right shows the sum of 17 HRC images taken after January 2006. Before 2006, three X-ray sources are clearly visible in the Chandra image, including one faint source close to the center of the image. After 2006, a fourth source, called M31*, appears just below and to the right of the central source, produced by material falling onto the supermassive black hole in M31.
A new exhibition connecting art and science opens May 12th outdoors in the garden of the John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University in Providence, RI. The exhibition features X-ray images of the cosmos from NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, X-ray images of paintings from the Harvard Art Museum, as well as pieces by artist Roxanne Crocker of the Rhode Island School of Design. Entitled "Sight Lines: Looking Back, Seeing Through," the exhibition is free and open to the public during daylight hours from May 12 through May 31, 2010.
Scientists have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton to detect a vast reservoir of gas lying along a wall-shaped structure of galaxies about 400 million light years from Earth. In this artist's impression, a close-up view of the so-called Sculptor Wall is depicted. Spiral and elliptical galaxies are shown in the wall along with the newly detected intergalactic gas, part of the so-called Warm Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM), shown in blue. This discovery is the strongest evidence yet that the "missing matter" in the nearby Universe is located in an enormous web of hot, diffuse gas.
For those of you who are still making 4th of July plans and might be in Washington, DC, for the holiday, here's something to consider. There will be a Chandra exhibit at this summer’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival from July 3-5. Why, you might ask?
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