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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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First Chandra Images Elate Astronomers
26 August 1999 6:00 pm
Only 5 weeks have passed since Chandra, NASA's new x-ray observatory, was launched, and already it may have found the youngest known neutron star--the corpse of a dead star--in the Milky Way. A spectacular x-ray image of Cassiopeia A, the remnant of a supernova explosion that happened 320 years ago, shows a point-shaped source of light at its center that "may well be the remnant of the exploded star," says Harvey Tananbaum, director of the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "If so, this is really a fabulous discovery," says supernova expert Robert Kirshner of Harvard University The first images obtained by the $1.5 billion telescope, named after the late astronomer and Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, were revealed today at a press conference at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Apart from Cassiopeia A, Chandra also snapped a distant quasar, revealing a vast tongue of x-ray-emitting particles. "The bottom line is: It works. It works perfectly," says Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator of space science.
Chandra is part of NASA's Great Observatories program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. After several weeks of testing and instrument calibrating, Chandra made its first images last week. The image of Cassiopeia A contains clues to the temperature and composition of the hot debris from the explosion; thanks to Chandra's large, high-quality x-ray mirrors, it shows much more detail than earlier x-ray photos of the supernova remnant, made by satellites like the U.S.-German ROSAT.
Chandra project scientist Martin Weisskopf of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, who worked on the project for 23 years, says the x-ray observatory is performing according to its specifications. "This is not only a great day for the Chandra team," says Kirshner, "but for all of astronomy. Chandra has a tremendous amount of promise."