Chandra Serves Up Cosmic Holiday Assortment
This is the season of celebrating, and the Chandra X-ray Center has prepared a platter of cosmic treats from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This selection represents different types of objects — from relatively nearby exploded stars to extremely distant and massive clusters of galaxies — that emit X-rays detected by Chandra. Each image in this collection blends data from Chandra with observations from other telescopes, creating a colorful medley of light from our universe.
This supernova remnant was produced by a massive star that exploded in a nearby galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud. X-rays from Chandra (blue and purple) have helped astronomers confirm that most of the oxygen in the universe is synthesized in massive stars. The amount of oxygen in the E0102-72.3 ring shown here is enough for thousands of solar systems. This image also contains optical data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile (red and green).
2. Abell 2744
This composite image contains the aftermath of a giant collision involving four separate galaxy clusters at a distance of about 3.5 billion light-years. Officially known as Abell 2744, this system is also called “Pandora’s Cluster” because of the different structures found within it. This view of Abell 2744 contains X-ray data from Chandra (blue) showing hot gas, optical data from Subaru and the VLT (red, green and blue), and radio data from the NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (red). Most of the cluster’s mass is invisible dark matter.
3. Messier 8
Also known as NGC 6523 or the Lagoon Nebula, Messier 8 is a giant cloud of gas and dust where stars are currently forming. At a distance of about 4,000 light years from Earth, Messier 8 provides astronomers an excellent opportunity to study the properties of very young stars. Many infant stars give off copious amounts of high-energy light including X-rays, which are seen in the Chandra data (pink). The X-ray data have been combined with an optical image of Messier 8 from the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center in Arizona (pale blue and white).