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