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Chandra X-Ray Observatory and Accessible Resources

The sky's the limit! Learn about the Chandra telescope, accessible images from space, and free accessible teacher/student resources from NASA!

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Hubble Space Telescope. Chandra detects X-ray light from very hot (millions of degrees) places in the Universe, such as exploding stars, galaxy clusters and matter swirling into black holes. 

Chandra launched into space on July 23, 1999, aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (mission STS-93). Chandra is about the size of a school bus, and it travels in an elliptical orbit, going about one third of the way to the Moon at its farthest point from Earth.

In its more than 20 years of operation, Chandra and X-ray astronomy as a whole have played a pivotal role in uncovering and solving the mysteries of the Universe. We look forward to what the next years may bring!

The video below is an introductory video about the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Why study the Universe with an X-ray telescope?

Light comes in many energies called the electromagnetic spectrum. The only light human eyes can detect is visible light. Sunshine is mostly visible light. 

But objects in the sky also shine in kinds of light that humans can’t detect, such as radio, infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, X-ray or gamma ray. If such objects are very, very hot (millions of degrees), or very energetic, they can shine in X-rays.  

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory detects the objects in our Universe that give off X-rays. We can create representations of these objects by taking the data and processing them into images, into 3D prints, into virtual reality, or even sounds. We provide a number of resources for people to explore the X-ray Universe themselves including:

Additional Resource

Chandra Pinterest Tag

By Kimberly Arcand

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