NASA’s Chandra Releases Doubleheader of Blockbuster Hits

New movies of two of the most famous objects in the sky — the Crab Nebula and Cassiopeia A — are being released from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Jets from the poles of the pulsar spew X-ray emitting matter and antimatter particles in a direction perpendicular to the ring.

Over 22 years, Chandra has taken many observations of the Crab Nebula. With this long runtime, astronomers see clear changes in both the ring and the jets in the new movie.

A new set of Chandra observations will be conducted later this year to follow changes in the jet since the last Chandra data was obtained in early 2022.

These expanding shock waves are sites where particles are being accelerated to energies that are higher than the most powerful accelerator on Earth

Cas A has been one of the most highly observed targets and publicly released images from the Chandra mission.

Chandra data was combined with data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to help determine the origin of mysterious structures within the remnant.

The paper describing their work was published in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online.

Such movies would not be possible without Chandra’s archives that serve as public repositories for the data collected over Chandra’s nearly 25 years of operations.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

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