10 years of Chandra, and other [space] telescopic news

Spitzer's NGC 1097With all due respect to Mick [*ahem* – Ed]. The week may have started with the amateurs setting the pace, but there’s still time for some [space] telescopic news from the professionals. The Europeans are still fine-tuning Herschel after it’s first view and Planck’s twittering from Lagrange 2 and in Calibration and Performance Verification (CPV) Phase. Meanwhile, Nasa’s Spitzer Infrared Telescope is now warming up. But they’ve released this wondrous colour-coded image of spiral galaxy NGC 1097 [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech – left, larger image here] – that’s a black hole, about 100 million times the mass of our sun, at the centre. Last, but not least, Nasa’s Chandra X-ray Observatory marked it’s 10th anniversary yesterday – the BBC has an excellent, but un-embeddable, audio slideshow. There’s also a Flash presentation – 10 years of Chandra – and a number of videos on Chandra’s YouTube channel.

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  • joeCanuck

    Truly awesome and mind blowing. Is that the first picture of a black hole (well, the hot gas at or close to the event horizon)?

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    It’s probably clearer here than in most other images.

    But you’re right that what we see is the ring of material around the black hole, rather than the black hole itself.

  • Devil Eire

    what we see is the ring of material around the black hole

    Well, the ring that is visible in the image is just a circum-nuclear star-forming ring, of which this happens to be a particularly nice example, being approximately face-on.

    The image doesn’t resolve the ‘accretion disk’ of material around the black hole. What we can see, though, is the infrared emission from this disk as a point of light in the centre of the star-forming ring. This isn’t at all unusual; it just makes for a pretty picture given the presence of the star-forming ring.

  • Pete Baker

    Devil Eire

    You are correct.

    I probably should have been more specific in my comment to Joe.