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Recent Podcast
A Tour of GSN 069
A Tour of GSN 069
Astronomers found X-ray bursts repeating about every nine hours coming from the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy GSN 069. (2019-09-11)

A Tour of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

Narrator (April Jubett, CXC): On July 23, 1999, the Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center carrying the Chandra X-ray Observatory. In the two decades that have passed, Chandra's powerful and unique X-ray eyes have contributed to a revolution in our understanding of the cosmos.

To commemorate Chandra's 20th anniversary of science operations, a collection of new images representing the breadth of Chandra's exploration was released. These images demonstrate the variety of objects Chandra studies as well as how X-rays complement the data collected in other types of light.

Chandra is one of NASA's "Great Observatories" along with the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. It has the sharpest vision of any X-ray telescope ever built. Chandra is often used in conjunction with telescopes like Hubble and Spitzer that observe in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and with other high-energy missions like XMM-Newton and NASA's NuSTAR.

Chandra's discoveries have impacted virtually every aspect of astrophysics. For example, Chandra was involved in a direct proof of dark matter's existence. It has witnessed powerful eruptions from supermassive black holes. Astronomers have also used Chandra to map how the elements essential to life are spread from supernova explosions.

Many of the phenomena Chandra now investigates were not even known when the telescope was being developed and built after first being proposed to NASA in 1976. For example, astronomers now use Chandra to study the effects of dark energy, test the impact of stellar radiation on exoplanets, and observe the outcomes of gravitational wave events.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory was named in honor of the late Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Chandra X-ray Center controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass. In 2018, NASA awarded a contract extension to continue operation and science support of Chandra through 2024, with the possibility of two three-year options.

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