Tech10: Technology & Astronomy

Nov
24

Last week, Tech Collective, Rhode Island’s industry association for Information Technology and Bioscience, announced ten Rhode Island IT practitioners, digital media designers, and entrepreneurs as its 2014 Tech10 Award recipients. Our own Kimberly Arcand, a Rhode Island native, was recognized for work as the Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Kim shared her thoughts on some important topics in science communication, which we include below.

STEM

The “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics seem inextricably linked, particularly in the field of space science. We can work from wherever there’s a connected computer – being able to access data from a spacecraft, orbiting a third of the way to the Moon, because of the telecommunications system/network and software that connects the observatory to the Deep Space Network and down through to – eventually - my laptop. My particular piece in this is directing the translation of the data and information into forms that others can use. That process happens in many ways, whether through the more literal form of processing binary data into visual representations of a cosmic object, or tweeting about a recent science result.

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Supernova Shock Waves, Neutron Stars, and Lobsters

Nov
19

MSH 11-62 and G327.1-1.1*

A supernova that signals the death of a massive star sends titanic shock waves rumbling through interstellar space. An ultra-dense neutron star is usually left behind, which is far from dead, as it spews out a blizzard of high-energy particles. Two new images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory provide fascinating views - including an enigmatic lobster-like feature - of the complex aftermath of a supernova.

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Reaching New Heights For Women & X-ray Astronomy

Nov
18

PART 2: #sts93 (PART 1)


Preparation for Launch

The size and weight distribution of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and its booster (called the Inertial Upper Stage, or IUS) posed extra risks for the crew of STS-93. Space Shuttle Columbia was the heaviest shuttle and the bulk of the weight from the two components in the payload bay – the heaviest ever to fly -- was located in the aft of the Shuttle. This meant it could be extremely dangerous – or fatal -- if for some reason, they had to return to Earth with Chandra and IUS in the payload bay.

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Reaching New Heights For Women & X-ray Astronomy

Nov
17

PART 1: #womeninstem


STS-93 Launch

Shortly after midnight on July 23, 1999, the Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off from the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission – dubbed STS-93 in NASA shorthand – had several purposes to achieve and scientific experiments to perform.

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A Lighthouse at the Heart of the Milky Way: Hunting Cosmic Neutrinos

Nov
12
 Andrea Peterson
Andrea Peterson

We are pleased to welcome Andrea Peterson as a guest blogger today. Andrea is a co-author of a paper reporting that the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy may be a source of highly energetic neutrinos, as explained in our latest press release. Andrea recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied particle phenomenology. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She was born and raised in Minnesota, and received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University. She hopes to live somewhere warm someday.

Neutrinos are tiny particles that zoom through the universe at nearly the speed of light. They interact very rarely, so most of the time they pass right through you, me, or any object they encounter. Their ghost-like nature can be a boon for astronomers: they travel from their sources without getting absorbed or deflected. We can use neutrinos to get a clear picture of the very distant universe.

You may have noticed a problem, though. If they don’t interact very often, how can we catch them here on Earth? They have to interact with our detector to be seen!

The solution is size. The bigger the detector, the more stuff there is for the neutrinos to bump into, increasing the chances of detection. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located at the South Pole, uses a cubic kilometer of ice to trap neutrinos. In three years, this giant detector has collected 36 extremely energetic neutrinos that are likely to have come from astrophysical sources.

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NASA X-ray Telescopes Find Black Hole May Be a Neutrino Factory

Nov
12

Sagittarius A*

The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, seen in this image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, may be producing mysterious particles called neutrinos, as described in our latest press release. Neutrinos are tiny particles that have virtually no mass and carry no electric charge. Unlike light or charged particles, neutrinos can emerge from deep within their sources and travel across the Universe without being absorbed by intervening matter or, in the case of charged particles, deflected by magnetic fields.

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Heating from Cosmic Chaos

Oct
25
Irina Zhuravleva
Irina Zhuravleva

We are pleased to welcome Irina Zhuravleva as a guest blogger today. Irina is the first author of a new paper describing a crucial role of gas turbulence in interaction between supermassive black holes and hot gas in galaxy clusters, the subject of our latest press release. Irina studied theoretical astrophysics in the department of mathematics and mechanics at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia, followed by a PhD in astrophysics at Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany. After that she moved to San Francisco area as a postdoctoral researcher at KIPAC, Stanford University.

Chaotic, turbulent flows are commonly encountered in everyday life: swirling eddies of milk poured into coffee, flickering flames of a campfire, external flows over cars and ships, white froth from breaking waves in the ocean, quaint patterns of clouds in the sky and pyroclastic flow in a volcanic eruption.

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NASA's Chandra Observatory Identifies Impact of Cosmic Chaos on Star Birth

Oct
25

Perseus Virgo

These two Chandra images of galaxy clusters - known as Perseus and Virgo - have provided direct evidence that turbulence is helping to prevent stars from forming. These new results could answer a long-standing question about how these galaxy clusters keep their enormous reservoirs of hot gas from cooling down to form stars, as discussed in our latest press release.

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Our Universe in Color

Oct
21

Today we released six new images from Chandra’s vast data archive. Each one of these astronomical images combines X-rays from Chandra with data from telescopes that detect different types of light such as infrared, radio, and visible light.

Archives

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Chandra's Archives Come to Life

Oct
21

Archives

Every year, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory looks at hundreds of objects throughout space to help expand our understanding of the Universe. Ultimately, these data are stored in the Chandra Data Archive, an electronic repository that provides access to these unique X-ray findings for anyone who would like to explore them. With the passing of Chandra's 15th anniversary in operation on August 26, 1999, the archive continues to grow as each successive year adds to the enormous and invaluable dataset.

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