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NASA Celebrates Chandra X-ray Observatory's 10th Anniversary

For Release: July 23, 2009


Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Dewey et al. & NASA/CXC/SAO/J.DePasquale); Optical (NASA/STScI).
Press Image and Caption

WASHINGTON -- Ten years ago, on July 23, 1999, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched aboard the space shuttle Columbia and deployed into orbit. Chandra has doubled its original five-year mission, ushering in an unprecedented decade of discovery for the high-energy universe.

With its unrivaled ability to create high-resolution X- ray images, Chandra has enabled astronomers to investigate phenomena as diverse as comets, black holes, dark matter and dark energy.

"Chandra's discoveries are truly astonishing and have made dramatic changes to our understanding of the universe and its constituents," said Martin Weisskopf, Chandra project scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The science that has been generated by Chandra -- both on its own and in conjunction with other telescopes in space and on the ground -- has had a widespread, transformative impact on 21st century astrophysics. Chandra has provided the strongest evidence yet that dark matter must exist. It has independently confirmed the existence of dark energy and made spectacular images of titanic explosions produced by matter swirling toward supermassive black holes.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chandra, three new versions of classic Chandra images will be released during the next three months. These images, the first of which is available Thursday, provide new data and a more complete view of objects that Chandra observed in earlier stages of its mission. The image being released today is of E0102-72, the spectacular remains of an exploded star.

"The Great Observatories program -- of which Chandra is a major part -- shows how astronomers need as many tools as possible to tackle the big questions out there," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NASA's other "Great Observatories" are the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope.

The next image will be released in August to highlight the anniversary of when Chandra opened up for the first time and gathered light on its detectors. The third image will be released during "Chandra's First Decade of Discovery" symposium in Boston, which begins Sept. 22.

"I am extremely proud of the tremendous team of people who worked so hard to make Chandra a success," said Harvey Tananbaum, director of the Chandra X-ray Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. "It has taken partners at NASA, industry and academia to make Chandra the crown jewel of high-energy astrophysics."

Tananbaum and Nobel Prize winner Riccardo Giacconi originally proposed Chandra to NASA in 1976. Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra is in a highly elliptical orbit that takes it almost one third of the way to the moon, and was not designed to be serviced after it was deployed.

Marshall manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center.

A list of Chandra's major scientific highlights, plus new multimedia and other material, is now available on a special "10 Year" webpage at:

Information about Chandra may always be found at: and

Media contacts:
J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington

Janet Anderson
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala.

Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.

Visitor Comments (15)

Wonderful and clear images! THANK YOU!

Posted by Mirna Sopranzi on Saturday, 05.11.13 @ 04:40am

Could anyone please explain to me how a spherical star acted on by gravity alone, produces an asymmetric outward explosion? No models to date have been able to achieve an outward explosion from a collapsing star. Anyone interested might want to study up on the Electric Universe theory, based on over 100 years of real experiments in plasma discharge phenomenon. Everything we observe going on with stars can be logically explained through the laws of electromagnetism, and can and is verified in laboratory experiments.

Posted by Birkeland on Thursday, 04.11.13 @ 09:13am


Posted by xavier on Tuesday, 07.13.10 @ 13:51pm

Go NASA, go, with all your excellent scientists, co-laborers from all over the world, astronauts etc. and let us learn about our universe, our world and ourselves. Seems that there is endless material to discover. I consider myself friend of yours.

Posted by arnold witting on Thursday, 04.1.10 @ 20:34pm

That is cool and amazing.

Posted by mr crespo on Saturday, 11.7.09 @ 14:47pm

Dear Biddie,
Observations and theory work in concert with each other. Often a model has to be constructed to explain an observation, but in other cases models will make a prediction and data is obtained to test this prediction. This feedback has occurred over many years, with continual refinement and embellishment of our theoretical understanding of the observed Universe.
Isaac Newton famously wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on the
shoulders of giants."

P.Edmonds, CXC

Posted by P. Edmonds on Monday, 09.14.09 @ 15:01pm

Excellent photo, I love it.

Posted by Roko Mise on Saturday, 09.12.09 @ 11:36am

What amazes me is that the people working on this project find it possible to construct such a theory from the data collected by Chandra and Hubble, then construct a mathematical model that hopefully reasonably portrays the shape out there in space.

Or do they somehow allow the math to form some theory first and then go on from there?

I would be interested in a description of this process a light one please - I'm a non-techie.

Posted by Biddie Fisher on Saturday, 09.5.09 @ 10:34am

I feel really privileged to visit your site and update myself in this field. I thank you for giving us - the ordinary man - an opportunity to share discoveries relating to the stars. Thank you and best wishes.

Posted by ANIL KUMAR SHARMA on Thursday, 08.27.09 @ 11:08am

Very nice site.

Posted by Pharmg208 on Wednesday, 08.26.09 @ 19:45pm

Great pix and comments. Keep up the good work.

Posted by Eileen on Sunday, 07.26.09 @ 16:38pm

Thanks for let us see beyond of our solar system.

Posted by pedro on Saturday, 07.25.09 @ 18:59pm

Giving us the option to switch between visible light and x-ray display is great, it shows us which new views Chandra can give.

Posted by Joachim Otahal on Saturday, 07.25.09 @ 04:46am

This is a very impressive image.

Posted by Mark Ballington on Friday, 07.24.09 @ 09:23am

Is there anything more marvelous than the universe?

Posted by arnold witting on Thursday, 07.23.09 @ 16:30pm