Chandra X-Ray Observatory

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Chandra X-Ray Observatory

An orbiting X-ray astronomy observatory launched by NASA in July 1999 as the third of its Great Observatories. Chandra, which takes its name from the 20th-century Indian-born US astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, was originally developed as one of the craft making up NASA's Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (see AXAF); dubbed AXAF-I and renamed after its launch, Chandra was equipped for high-resolution X-ray imaging and was deployed by the space shuttle Columbia into a highly eccentric orbit (apogee 140 161 km, inclination 28.5°) that has allowed long periods of observation unimpeded by Earth shadowing. Chandra's optics consist of four nested pairs of grazing incidence paraboloid and hyperboloid mirrors, each having an outer diameter of 1.2 meters and a focal length of 10 meters. With its Advanced Charged Couple Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) and its high-resolution camera using large field-of-view microchannel plates to make X-ray images, Chandra's optical system achieves an angular resolution of 0.5 arcseconds over an operating range of 0.2–10 keV. Its high- and low-energy transmission gratings provide impressive spectral resolution throughout the range 0.09–10 keV.

Chandra has been called the most sophisticated X-ray observatory of its time, providing images of unprecedented detail at resolutions that are claimed to be about 50 times better than those achieved by ROSAT, the best X-ray astronomy satellite prior to 1999. In its first five years, Chandra has begun to penetrate the hottest, most energetic regions of the Universe. In particular, it has advanced our knowledge of black holes, discovering among many other things how fast they spin, finding evidence of a star torn apart by a black hole, and emphatically confirming the reality of the event horizon. It has revealed enormous tracts of hot gas, billions of parsecs distant and radiating at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees K. It has provided startling new images of supernova remnants such as the Crab Nebula, with its restless pulsar, showing intricate details never suspected before. It has made new studies of star-forming regions such as the Orion Nebula and analyzed the effects of galaxy collisions and the merging of galaxy clusters. Most notably, it has gathered direct evidence of dark energy and the expansion of the Universe.

References in periodicals archive ?
Lisse's team used the Chandra X-ray telescope, once in 2014 and three times in 2015, to look for X-rays.
London, July 8 (ANI): European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope have helped scientists uncover the most powerful pair of jets ever seen from a stellar black hole.
This large format (10x14") reference could also have been named "Great Observatories of the Solar System," since it includes space telescopes such as the SOHO solar observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Telescope, and the Far Ultraviolet Space Explorer (FUSE).
One of the meeting's most exciting announcements came from Richard Mushotzky (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) speaking for a team using the Chandra X-ray telescope launched last July.
Collins is supervising a mission to put the Chandra X-ray telescope into an orbit extending a third of the way to the moon.
STS 93's successful deployment of the Chandra X-ray telescope has produced images revealing new discoveries of the universe beyond anyone's expectations.
Their evidence comes in the form of what Chandra x-ray telescope scientist Peter Edmonds calls the missing "x-ray fuse.
One task is to ensure that the pounds 1billion Chandra X-ray telescope is delivered safely into orbit.
This finding helps to explain a decades-long paradox of the existence of large amounts of warm gas around certain galaxies, making them appear bright to the Chandra X-ray telescope.