Fun with x-rays!

I really love the people who run the Chandra X-Ray observatory. They really do manage to make x-rays fun – and that’s a phrase which I’m sure most people would never have expected to hear. The latest thing I’ve discovered? Customise your own x-ray astronomy images!

Images recorded in x-rays aren’t always the easiest of things to capture. After all, x-rays are quite difficult to effectively focus into an image, and x-ray sources can have a low enough flux that you can count the number of photons you detect. All the same, Chandra (alongside other x-ray instruments in orbit) have made an impressive number of images over the years, and many of them are quite beautiful.

Chandra’s openFITS directory makes it nice and easy to download raw astronomical data from some of the biggest and shiniest x-ray images (like the image below of supernova remnant SN1006) and create your own versions. The data is downloadable in FITS format – the standard format for astronomical images and data to be saved in. If you don’t know how to open a FITS file, then I’d download yourself a copy of DS9. It’ll be a big help. I don’t know about you, but I could probably have hours of fun with all of these!

There's nothing about supernovae which isn't cool. Yes, I realise how ironic that statement is.

I wonder if anyone’s going to make interesting x-ray art with these. Bored Photoshop equipped hipsters, I’m looking at you!

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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3 Responses to Fun with x-rays!

  1. Ash says:

    I was gobsmacked when I found out how weird looking the optics of Chandra (and indeed all X-Ray telescopes) is.

  2. pax says:

    The archive is so cool :) We used Chandra data (along with some HST and Radio, but Chandra were the easiest to get) for a summer school for high school students this summer – the kids had so much fun doing their own images. For them, it was incredible to work with real data :) And they learned a lot about the objects, of course ;)

    • invaderxan says:

      But of course! :)

      I think it’s fair to say that for most everyone everywhere, there’s an added level of excitement about working with real data – the same real data they’ve seen and heard about in the news when interesting discoveries are made. And I have to say, on a personal level, it’s excitement which never really goes away. :)

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