When these incredible images are first seen, the nature of their true identity is far from what is on one’s mind. While these 10 bizarre objects from space might look fluffy or mossy, others seem to be drops of liquid or tiny organisms observed through a microscope. They are in fact Supernova remnants – the seemingly frozen explosions of dying stars caught by NASA‘s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Supernova explosions forge the heavy elements that can provide the raw material from which future generations of stars and planets will form. Studying how supernova remnants expand into the galaxy and interact with other material provides critical clues into our own origins.
Launched on July 23, 1999, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Because X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must orbit above it, up to an altitude of 139,000 km (86,500 mi) in space. The Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA, hosts the Chandra X-ray Center which operates the satellite, processes the data, and distributes it to scientists around the world for analysis. The Center maintains an extensive public website about the science results and an education program.