Happy Birthday Chandra!
NASA’s flagship X-ray telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, was launched on July 23, 1999 and is celebrating its 19th birthday today! Chandra is an orbiting telescope designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. The telescope has returned spectacular images of exploded stars, the area around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and has found numerous black holes around the universe.
Did you know…
- Chandra was initially given an expected lifetime of 5 years, but has been operational for almost 4x as long as this.
- Because X-rays are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must operate above it at very high altitudes of up to 139,000 km (86,500 miles) in space. This is more than 200x higher than the Hubble Space Telescope!
- The resolving power of the telescope is the equivalent of being able to read a stop sign 12 miles away.
- Chandra can observe X-rays from particles only a second before they disappear into a black hole!