Radiology

Did you know there are x-rays in space?

There are x-rays in space that come from stars (including our Sun), supernovas, quasars, and black holes. Our northern lights and auroras on other planets (including Jupiter and Saturn) also produce x-rays. Scientists can use these x-rays to take pictures of our universe using x-ray telescopes. Since x-rays from space are absorbed by our atmosphere and don’t reach the Earth’s surface, x-ray telescopes are placed on satellites that orbit the Earth.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory orbits up to 86,500 miles above the Earth’s surface (about a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon). It was launched into space on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999 and has been looking at high-energy regions of our Universe. You can see some pictures the Chandra X-ray Observatory has taken by going to http://chandra.harvard.edu/blog/big_picture.html.

Centaurus A: A galaxy located 12 million light years from Earth that has a huge jet blasting out of a super massive black hole. CREDIT: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al.; Submillimeter: MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al.; Optical: ESO/WFI

Kepler’s Supernova Remnant: The remnant of the famous supernova seen by Johannes Kepler in 1604. CREDIT: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/M.Burkey et al; Optical: DSS

Tarantula Nebula: A massive star-forming region located about 160,000 light years from Earth. CREDIT: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.

Stephan’s Quintet: A group of galaxies located about 280 million light years from Earth. CREDIT: X-ray (NASA/CXC/CfA/E.O’Sullivan); Optical (Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope/Coelum)

Galactic Center: The center of our Milky Way galaxy. CREDIT: NASA/CXC/UMass/D. Wang et al.

Contributed by Dr. Susan Sharp and edited by Michelle Gramke (ADV TECH_US).

Michelle Gramke

About the Author: Michelle Gramke

Michelle is a Sonographer and has worked at Cincinnati Children’s for almost 26 years. She loves her job and loves working with kids. She is a lifetime Westsider (a person that lives on the west side of Cincinnati) and is married with 3 kids.

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