Explore Deep Space with Glorious New X-Ray Images

October 16, 2015 | Sarah Tse

Chandra Archive 2015
Photo credit: NASA

Will we ever tire of the incredible images of distant cosmic objects sent back by space telescopes? Not likely. NASA continues to satiate our thirst for the universe beyond our planet with these newly released images collected by the Chandra X-ray observatory.

W44 (G34.7-0.4)

W44, also known as G34.7-0.4, is an expanding supernova remnant leftover from an exploding star. The image includes both x-ray and infrared information that show the supernova's interactions with its parent cloud of dust and gas. W44 is located about 10,000 light-years away, in the constellation of Aquila, the Eagle.


SN 1987A

SN 1987A is the brightest and closest supernova to occur near Earth in the last century. The star once lived in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula about 168,000 light-years away, which is close enough to see with the naked eye. The supernova's light reached Earth on February 23, 1987, peaked in May, and then slowly faded away over the next few months. This image combines X-ray and optical data to show the supernova's shell of hot gas riding a shock-wave out from the dying star.


Kesteven 79

Kesteven 79 is another supernova remnant, but much older — about 30,000 years, and 23,000 light-years away. The surviving stellar core, or neutron star, and its expanding shell of debris were heated to millions of degrees, giving off X-rays that appear red, green, and blue. The white stars come from optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey.


MS 0735.6+7421

MS 0735.6+7421 is a galaxy cluster that produced the most world-shaking eruption ever observed. The blue X-rays show hot gas full of cavities created by the tantrum of a supermassive black hole at the cluster's heart. The supermassive black hole also ejected pink radio-waves that helped give away its location in the constellation Camelopardalis, or Giraffe, approximately 2.6 billion light-years away.



3C295 is a galaxy cluster with a colossal cloud of 50-million-degree gas only visible with the Chandra X-ray telescope. The pink cloud contains a mass equal to a thousand galaxies, while individual yellow galaxies were picked out with optical data from the Hubble telescope. Undetectable with any telescope, however, is the dark matter that holds the hot gas and galaxies together. 3C295 is located in Boötes, a constellation of a herdsman over 5 billion light-years from Earth.  


Guitar Nebula

Guitar Nebula is a bow-shaped shock wave created by the high-speed neutron star B2224+65. The guitar's shape is illuminated by blue optical data taken by Hubble, combined with pink X-ray data from Chandra, revealing a long jet streaming from the star at the guitar's tip. The nebula is about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation of Cepheus, the Ethiopian king of Greek mythology.

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