Happy 16th birthday to the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer! Though this mission is soon coming to a close, it’s had an incredible lifespan and so much great science has come out of it.
RXTE has a Learning Center, which recently received a facelift. It has a terrific intro to X-ray astronomy complete with a activity/information booklet that you download in pdf format. There is also a section for educators with both formal lesson plans and activities you can try yourself!
The center of our galaxy glows in this infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. This data was originally part of a more complete view of the plane of the Milky Way, but then was given different contrast to better highlight the features of this region around the galactic center. The blue haze that brightens towards the center of the image is due to the sheer number of stars, the green is from carbon-rich dust molecules (called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs) swirling around the galaxy’s core, illuminated by starlight. The yellow-red patches are thermal glow from warm dust. PAHs, dust and clouds of gas are ingredients needed for star formation. The bright feature in the very center is a cluster of stars orbiting the massive black hole at our galaxy’s center. Read more at JPL’s press release.
One of the things we do a lot of at NASA Goddard is build satellites. Many, many missions have come through here to be either constructed, or tested, or both!
But did you know that you can build your own versions of many of these missions? Ok, maybe they won’t be life-sized, but some of these paper models are pretty cool! We’ve featured a few of them in this post.
First up is the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, a small X-ray satellite that allows scientists to studying the timing of objects like neutron stars and black holes.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE)! With its future in jeopardy, we thought we’d like to celebrate its long and useful life. Did you know that over its productive lifetime, there have been more than 2000 RXTE-related articles in scientific journals and more than 90 RXTE-related Ph.D. theses?
First, from the archives, we have this promotional video from 1991 that highlights the features and capabilities of the the RXTE, and is still largely applicable today. (Yes, that music certainly is “retro”!)
We also spoke with several project scientists for RXTE, Dr. Craig Markwardt, Dr. Tod Strohmayer, Dr. Hale Bradt (principle investigator of the All-Sky Monitor on RXTE), and Dr. Jean Swank (principle investigator for Proportional Counter Array (PCA) on RXTE).
Black holes and pulsars are two of the most mysterious (and coolest-sounding) cosmic objects – and we study both of them here at the Astrophysics Science Division. Here is Blueshift’s inside look at two recent discoveries made using data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (which I personally like to think of as the “little satellite that could”). One of these discoveries has to do with black holes and how they emit x-rays. The other, about pulsar eclipses, was made by an ASD scientist, Dr. Craig Markwardt, who talked to Blueshift about what he found.
Welcome to the June 2007 episode of Blueshift, from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. We’re featuring X-ray astronomy this episode – listening to black holes and learning about what it takes to build an X-ray telescope.
We interviewed Jerry Bonnell, co-curator of the Astronomy Picture of the Day, for a behind-the-scenes look at the website. We’ll wrap things up with a new question from the mailbag, and a brain teaser.