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NASA Universe


Sep 22

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X-ray light helps us study some of the most extreme objects, events, and environments in the universe. When stuff gets heated up or smashed together, it produces X-rays that help us learn about what’s going on. Read on for more info! 🧵

Missions like NuSTAR, NICER, Chandra, and Swift help us study material swirling around black holes, which heats up to millions of degrees and glows in X-rays. We can see how black holes interact with stuff around them, and sometimes we catch them snacking:…

This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. The corona (feature represented in purplish colors) gathers inward (left), becoming brighter, before shooting away from the black hole (middle and right). Astronomers don't know why the coronas shift, but they have learned that this process leads to a brightening of X-ray light that can be observed by telescopes. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Pulsars are a type of neutron star — the rapidly spinning crushed core of a massive star — that emit beams of X-ray light we see as flashes. Our NICER telescope has helped us map their surfaces and even gives us a better idea of what’s inside of them:…

X-ray light can help us study what happens when huge stars explode. This image of supernova remnant Cassiopeia A shows two shock waves — a slow inner one and a faster outer one — around a neutron star. Fun fact: This was the first image released by @Chandra Observatory!

Our X-ray telescopes usually focus on the universe outside the @NASA Solar System, but sometimes they make discoveries within it! NuSTAR recently observed the highest-energy light ever detected from Jupiter and helped solve a decades-old mystery:

NASA Universe


Your backstage pass to the universe and how NASA studies it.

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