Happy Birthday, Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Four new images of supernova remnants celebrate the telescope's 15 years of awesome discoveries

Supernova Remnant G292.0+1.8

One of four new images from Chandra.

The Space Shuttle Columbia carried the Chandra X-ray Observatory into space on July 23, 1999. To commemorate the telescope’s quinceañera, NASA has released four beautiful new images of supernova remnants, processed from Chandra’s readings, that showcase the observatory’s capabilities.

One of the agency’s “Great Observatories” along with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, Chandra does not take photographs, but rather makes detects X-ray emissions from “hot and energetic” areas of the universe, which can be rendered into images. The rig is named in honor of Nobel laureate astrophysicist Subrahmanyan “Chandra” Chandrasekhar (1910-1995). Since “chandra” also means both “moon” and “shining” in Sanskrit, the name seems especially appropriate.

NASA held an online hangout-birthday party on July 22 – which you can watch here – with Chandra scientists Steve O’Dell, Harvey Tananbaum, Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo and Scott Wolk. They chatted with the public about highlights of the mission and showed off amazing Chandra images.

View the gallery here.