Jump to content

Coming in Hot — NASA’s Chandra Checks Habitability of Exoplanets


NASA

Recommended Posts

  • Publishers
Movie: Cal Poly Pomona/B. Binder; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

This graphic shows a three-dimensional map of stars near the Sun. These stars are close enough that they could be prime targets for direct imaging searches for planets using future telescopes. The blue haloes represent stars that have been observed with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. The yellow star at the center of this diagram represents the position of the Sun. The concentric rings show distances of 5, 10, and 15 parsecs (one parsec is equivalent to roughly 3.2 light-years).

Astronomers are using these X-ray data to determine how habitable exoplanets may be based on whether they receive lethal radiation from the stars they orbit, as described in our latest press release. This type of research will help guide observations with the next generation of telescopes aiming to make the first images of planets like Earth.

Researchers examined stars that are close enough to Earth that telescopes set to begin operating in the next decade or two — including the Habitable Worlds Observatory in space and Extremely Large Telescopes on the ground — could take images of planets in the stars’ so-called habitable zones. This term defines orbits where the planets could have liquid water on their surfaces.

There are several factors influencing what could make a planet suitable for life as we know it. One of those factors is the amount of harmful X-rays and ultraviolet light they receive, which can damage or even strip away the planet’s atmosphere.

Based on X-ray observations of some of these stars using data from Chandra and XMM-Newton, the research team examined which stars could have hospitable conditions on orbiting planets for life to form and prosper. They studied how bright the stars are in X-rays, how energetic the X-rays are, and how much and how quickly they change in X-ray output, for example, due to flares. Brighter and more energetic X-rays can cause more damage to the atmospheres of orbiting planets.

The researchers used almost 10 days of Chandra observations and about 26 days of XMM observations, available in archives, to examine the X-ray behavior of 57 nearby stars, some of them with known planets. Most of these are giant planets like Jupiter, Saturn or Neptune, while only a handful of planets or planet candidates could be less than about twice as massive as Earth.

These results were presented at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, by Breanna Binder (California State Polytechnic University in Pomona).

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge, Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory/

Visual Description:

This video shows a three-dimensional map of stars near the Sun on the left side of our screen and a dramatic illustration of a star with a planet orbiting around it on the right side.

The star map on the left shows many circular dots of different colors floating within an illustrated three-sided box. Each wall of the box is constructed in a grid pattern, with straight lines running horizontally and vertically like chicken wire. Dots that are colored blue represent stars that have been observed with NASA’s Chandra and ESA’s XMM-Newton.

Suspended in the box, at about the halfway point, is a series of three concentric circles surrounding a central dot that indicates the placement of our Sun. The circles represent distances of 5, 10, and 15 parsecs. One parsec is equivalent to roughly 3.2 light-years.

In the animation, the dot filled, chicken wire box spins around slowly, first on its X axis and then on its Y axis, providing a three-dimensional exploration of the plotted stars.

News Media Contact

Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Center
Cambridge, Mass.
617-496-7998

Jonathan Deal
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Ala.
256-544-0034

Edit

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      The barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 is interacting with a smaller galaxy to the upper left. The smaller galaxy has likely stripped gas from NGC 6872 to feed the supermassive black hole in its center.X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Schmidt, L. Frattare, and J. Major To commemorate the 25th anniversary of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory launch, the Chandra team released this never-seen-before image of NGC 6872, a spiral galaxy in the Pavo (Peacock) constellation, on July 22, 2024. This image and 24 others, which all include data from Chandra, demonstrate how X-ray astronomy explores all corners of the universe.
      NGC 6872 is 522,000 light-years across, making it more than five times the size of the Milky Way galaxy; in 2013, astronomers from the United States, Chile, and Brazil found it to be the largest-known spiral galaxy, based on archival data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer. This record was surpassed by NGC 262, a galaxy that measures 1.3 million light-years in diameter.
      See more photos released for this celebration.
      Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Schmidt, L. Frattare, and J. Major
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA/SAO/CXC This montage contains 25 new images with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory that is being released to commemorate the telescope’s 25th anniversary in space, as described in our latest press release. Since its launch into space on July 23, 1999, Chandra has been NASA’s flagship mission for X-ray astronomy in its fleet of “Great Observatories.” Chandra discovers exotic new phenomena and examines old mysteries, looking at objects within our own Solar System out to nearly the edge of the observable Universe.
      There is a broad range of astronomical objects in this collection. At the center is one of Chandra’s most iconic targets, the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A). This was one of the very first objects observed by Chandra after its launch in 1999, and astronomers have often returned to observe Cas A with Chandra since then.
      Chandra quickly discovered a point source of X-rays in Cas A’s center for the first time, later confirmed to be a neutron star. Later Chandra was used to discover evidence for a “superfluid” inside Cas A’s neutron star, to reveal that the original massive star may have turned inside out as it exploded, and to take an important step in pinpointing how giant stars explode.
      The Cassiopeia A supernova remnant has been observed for more than 2 million seconds since the start of the Chandra mission in 1999. X-rays from Chandra (blue); infrared from Webb (orange, white, and blue)X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/D. Milisavljevic (Purdue Univ.), I. De Looze (UGent), T. Temim (Princeton Univ.); Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Major, J. Schmidt and K. Arcand The unmatched sharpness of Chandra’s X-ray images are perfect for studying the hot debris and energetic particles remaining behind after supernova explosions. Other examples in this new collection include the Crab Nebula, G21.5-0.9, MSH 15-52, and SN 1987A. Chandra also probes the different branches of stellar evolution such as “planetary nebulas” when stars like the Sun run out of fuel and shed their outer layers as seen in the Chandra image of HB 5.
      Chandra also looks at what happens at the start of the stellar life cycle, providing information about some of the youngest and most massive stars. Images of these stellar nurseries in the “25 for 25” montage include the Orion Nebula, Cat’s Paw, M16 (a.k.a., the “Pillars of Creation”), the Bat Shadow and NGC 3324. A view of a more mature star cluster, NGC 3532, is also included. X-ray data are particularly useful for studying objects like this because young stars are often copious producers of X-rays, allowing stars that are members of clusters to be picked out of a foreground or background of older objects. Chandra’s sharp images and sensitivity also allow many more sources to be seen.
      This region of star formation contains the Pillars of Creation, which was made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope. Chandra detects X-rays from young stars in the region, including one embedded in a pillar. X-rays from Chandra (red and blue); infrared image from Webb (red, green, and blue)X-ray: NASA/CXO/SAO; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI; Image processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare Chandra observes galaxies — including our own Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole resides at its center. Chandra also studies other galaxies and this is represented in the new images of NGC 7469, Centaurus A, NGC 6872, NGC 1365, and Arp 220.
      Astronomers look at even larger structures like galaxy clusters with Chandra, where hundreds or thousands of galaxies are immersed in multimillion-degree gas that only an X-ray telescope can detect. In this release of images, M86 and the Virgo cluster, Abell 2125, and MACS J0035 are examples of galaxy clusters Chandra has observed.
      Closer to home, Chandra has contributed to the study of planets and comets in our own Solar System including Venus, Mars, Saturn, and even Earth itself. This ability to explore the Solar System is represented by the image of aurora on Jupiter, captured in X-rays, in this collection.
      A full list of the 25 images celebrating Chandra’s 25th, along with the data included and what the colors represent, is available at https://chandra.si.edu/photo/2024/25th/more.html.
      Images of some of these objects had previously been released, but now include new X-ray data or have been combined with different data from other telescopes. Some of these objects have never been released before with Chandra data.
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
      For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory
      Visual Description:
      This image shows a collection of 25 new space images celebrating the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s 25th anniversary. The images are arranged in a grid, displayed as five images across in five separate rows. Starting from the upper left, and going across each row, the objects imaged are: Crab Nebula, Orion Nebula, The Eyes Galaxies, Cat’s Paw Nebula, Milky Way’s Galactic Center, M16, Bat Shadow, NGC 7469, Virgo Cluster, WR 124, G21.5-0.9, Centaurus A, Cassiopeia A, NGC 3532, NGC 6872, Hb 5, Abell 2125, NGC 3324, NGC 1365, MSH 15-52, Arp 220, Jupiter, NGC 1850, MACS J0035, SN 1987A.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Cosmic Road Trip: four distinct composite images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope, presented in a two-by-two grid, Rho Ophiuchi at lower right, the heart of the Orion Nebula at upper right, the galaxy NGC 3627 at lower left and the galaxy cluster MACS J0416.X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical/Infrared: (Hubble) NASA/ESA/STScI; IR: (JWST) NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI It’s time to take a cosmic road trip using light as the highway and visit four stunning destinations across space. The vehicles for this space get-away are NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and James Webb Space Telescope.
      The first stop on this tour is the closest, Rho Ophiuchi, at a distance of about 390 light-years from Earth. Rho Ophiuchi is a cloud complex filled with gas and stars of different sizes and ages. Being one of the closest star-forming regions, Rho Ophiuchi is a great place for astronomers to study stars. In this image, X-rays from Chandra are purple revealing infant stars that violently flare and produce X-rays. Infrared data from Webb are red, yellow, cyan, light blue and darker blue and provide views of the spectacular regions of gas and dust.
      X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/C. Canizares; IR: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/K. Pontoppidan; Image Processing: NASA/ESA/STScI/Alyssa Pagan, NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare and J. Major The next destination is the Orion Nebula. Still located in the Milky Way galaxy, this region is a little bit farther from our home planet at about 1,500 light-years away. If you look just below the middle of the three stars that make up the “belt” in the constellation of Orion, you may be able to see this nebula through a small telescope. With Chandra and Webb, however, we get to see so much more. Chandra reveals young stars that glow brightly in X-rays, colored in red, green, and blue, while Webb shows the gas and dust in darker red that will help build the next generation of stars here.
      X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/E.Fei It’s time to leave our galaxy and visit another. Like the Milky Way, NGC 3627 is a spiral galaxy that we see at a slight angle. NGC 3627 is known as a “barred” spiral galaxy because of the rectangular shape of its central region. From our vantage point, we can also see two distinct spiral arms that appear as arcs. X-rays from Chandra in purple show evidence for a supermassive black hole in its center while Webb finds the dust, gas, and stars throughout the galaxy in red, green, and blue. This image also contains optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green, and blue.
      Spiral galaxy NGC 3627.X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/ESO/STScI, ESO/WFI; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/JWST; Image Processing:/NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Major Our final landing place on this trip is the farthest and the biggest. MACS J0416 is a galaxy cluster, which are among the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Galaxy clusters like this can contain hundreds or even thousands of individual galaxies all immersed in massive amounts of superheated gas that Chandra can detect. In this view, Chandra’s X-rays in purple show this reservoir of hot gas while Hubble and Webb pick up the individual galaxies in red, green, and blue.
      ACS J0416 galaxy cluster.X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/G. Ogrean et al.; Optical/Infrared: (Hubble) NASA/ESA/STScI; IR: (JWST) NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/Jose M. Diego (IFCA), Jordan C. J. D’Silva (UWA), Anton M. Koekemoer (STScI), Jake Summers (ASU), Rogier Windhorst (ASU), Haojing Yan (University of Missouri) NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
      For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory/
      Visual Description:
      This release features four distinct composite images from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the James Webb Space Telescope, presented in a two-by-two grid.
      At our lower right is Rho Ophiuchi, a cloud complex filled with gas, and dotted with stars. The murky green and gold cloud resembles a ghostly head in profile, swooping down from the upper left, trailing tendrils of hair. Cutting across the bottom edge and lower righthand corner of the image is a long, narrow, brick red cloud which resembles the ember of a stick pulled from a fire. Several large white stars dot the image. Many are surrounded by glowing neon purple rings, and gleam with diffraction spikes.
      At our upper right of the grid is a peek into the heart of the Orion Nebula, which blankets the entire image. Here, the young star nursery resembles a dense, stringy, dusty rose cloud, peppered with thousands of glowing golden, white, and blue stars. Layers of cloud around the edges of the image, and a concentration of bright stars at its distant core, help convey the depth of the nebula.
      In the lower left of the two-by-two grid is a hazy image of a spiral galaxy known as NGC 3627. Here, the galaxy appears pitched at an oblique angle, tilted from our upper left down to our lower right. Much of its face is angled toward us, making its spiral arms, composed of red and purple dots, easily identifiable. Several bright white dots ringed with neon purple speckle the galaxy. At the galaxy’s core, where the spiral arms converge, a large white and purple glow identified by Chandra provides evidence of a supermassive black hole.
      At the upper left of the grid is an image of the distant galaxy cluster known as MACS J0416. Here, the blackness of space is packed with glowing dots and tiny shapes, in whites, purples, oranges, golds, and reds, each a distinct galaxy. Upon close inspection (and with a great deal of zooming in!) the spiraling arms of some of the seemingly tiny galaxies are revealed in this highly detailed image. Gently arched across the middle of the frame is a soft band of purple; a reservoir of superheated gas detected by Chandra.
      News Media Contact
      Megan Watzke
      Chandra X-ray Center
      Cambridge, Mass.
      617-496-7998
      Lane Figueroa
      Marshall Space Flight Center
      Huntsville, Ala.
      256-544-0034
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Supernova remnant 3C 58.X-ray: NASA/CXC/ICE-CSIC/A. Marino et al.; Optical: SDSS; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Major The supernova remnant 3C 58 contains a spinning neutron star, known as PSR J0205+6449, at its center. Astronomers studied this neutron star and others like it to probe the nature of matter inside these very dense objects. A new study, made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton, reveals that the interiors of neutron stars may contain a type of ultra-dense matter not found anywhere else in the Universe.
      In this image of 3C 58, low-energy X-rays are colored red, medium-energy X-rays are green, and the high-energy band of X-rays is shown in blue. The X-ray data have been combined with an optical image in yellow from the Digitized Sky Survey. The Chandra data show that the rapidly rotating neutron star (also known as a “pulsar”) at the center is surrounded by a torus of X-ray emission and a jet that extends for several light-years. The optical data shows stars in the field.
      The team in this new study analyzed previously released data from neutron stars to determine the so-called equation of state. This refers to the basic properties of the neutron stars including the pressures and temperatures in different parts of their interiors.
      The authors used machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, to compare the data to different equations of state. Their results imply that a significant fraction of the equations of state — the ones that do not include the capability for rapid cooling at higher masses — can be ruled out.
      The researchers capitalized on some neutron stars in the study being located in supernova remnants, including 3C 58. Since astronomers have age estimates of the supernova remnants, they also have the ages of the neutron stars that were created during the explosions that created both the remnants and the neutron stars. The astronomers found that the neutron star in 3C 58 and two others were much cooler than the rest of the neutron stars in the study.
      The team thinks that part of the explanation for the rapid cooling is that these neutron stars are more massive than most of the rest. Because more massive neutron stars have more particles, special processes that cause neutron stars to cool more rapidly might be triggered.
      One possibility for what is inside these neutron stars is a type of radioactive decay near their centers where neutrinos — low mass particles that easily travel through matter — carry away much of the energy and heat, causing rapid cooling.
      Another possibility is that there are types of exotic matter found in the centers of these more rapidly cooling neutron stars.
      The Nature Astronomy paper describing these results is available here. The authors of the paper are Alessio Marino (Institute of Space Sciences (ICE) in Barcelona, Spain), Clara Dehman (ICE), Konstantinos Kovlakas (ICE), Nanda Rea (ICE), J. A. Pons (University of Alicante in Spain), and Daniele Viganò (ICE).
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
      For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory/
      Visual Description
      This is an image of the leftovers from an exploded star called 3C 58, shown in X-ray and optical light. At the center of the remnant is a rapidly spinning neutron star, called a pulsar, that presents itself as a bright white object that’s somewhat elongated in shape.
      Loops and swirls of material, in shades of blue and purple, extend outward from the neutron star in many directions, resembling the shape of an octopus and its arms.
      Surrounding the octopus-like structure is a cloud of material in shades of red that is wider horizontally than it is vertically. A ribbon of purple material extends to the left edge of the red cloud, curling upward at its conclusion. Another purple ribbon extends to the right edge of the red cloud, though it is less defined than the one on the other side. Stars of many shapes and sizes dot the entire image.
      News Media Contact
      Megan Watzke
      Chandra X-ray Center
      Cambridge, Mass.
      617-496-7998
      Jonathan Deal
      Marshall Space Flight Center
      Huntsville, Ala.
      256-544-0034
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Star Cluster Westerlund 1.X-ray: NASA/CXC/INAF/M. Guarcello et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare Westerlund 1 is the biggest and closest “super” star cluster to Earth. New data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, in combination with other NASA telescopes, is helping astronomers delve deeper into this galactic factory where stars are vigorously being produced.
      This is the first data to be publicly released from a project called the Extended Westerlund 1 and 2 Open Clusters Survey, or EWOCS, led by astronomers from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Palermo. As part of EWOCS, Chandra observed Westerlund 1 for about 12 days in total.
      Currently, only a handful of stars form in our galaxy each year, but in the past the situation was different. The Milky Way used to produce many more stars, likely hitting its peak of churning out dozens or hundreds of stars per year about 10 billion years ago and then gradually declining ever since. Astronomers think that most of this star formation took place in massive clusters of stars, known as “super star clusters,” like Westerlund 1. These are young clusters of stars that contain more than 10,000 times the mass of the Sun. Westerlund 1 is between about 3 million and 5 million years old.
      This new image shows the new deep Chandra data along with previously released data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The X-rays detected by Chandra show young stars (mostly represented as white and pink) as well as diffuse heated gas throughout the cluster (colored pink, green, and blue, in order of increasing temperatures for the gas). Many of the stars picked up by Hubble appear as yellow and blue dots.
      Only a few super star clusters still exist in our galaxy, but they offer important clues about this earlier era when most of our galaxy’s stars formed. Westerlund 1 is the biggest of these remaining super star clusters in the Milky Way and contains a mass between 50,000 and 100,000 Suns. It is also the closest super star cluster to Earth at about 13,000 light-years.
      These qualities make Westerlund 1 an excellent target for studying the impact of a super star cluster’s environment on the formation process of stars and planets as well as the evolution of stars over a broad range of masses.
      This new deep Chandra dataset of Westerlund 1 has more than tripled the number of X-ray sources known in the cluster. Before the EWOCS project, Chandra had detected 1,721 sources in Westerlund 1. The EWOCS data found almost 6,000 X-ray sources, including fainter stars with lower masses than the Sun. This gives astronomers a new population to study.
      One revelation is that 1,075 stars detected by Chandra are squeezed into the middle of Westerlund 1 within four light-years of the cluster’s center. For a sense of how crowded this is, four light-years is about the distance between the Sun and the next closest star to Earth.
      The diffuse emission seen in the EWOCS data represents the first detection of a halo of hot gas surrounding the center of Westerlund 1, which astronomers think will be crucial in assessing the cluster’s formation and evolution, and giving a more precise estimate of its mass.
      A paper published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, led by Mario Guarcello from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Palermo, discusses the survey and the first results. Follow-up papers will discuss more about the results, including detailed studies of the brightest X-ray sources. This future work will analyze other EWOCS observations, involving NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and NICER (Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer).
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
      For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/mission/chandra-x-ray-observatory/
      Visual Description:
      This is an image of the Westerlund 1 star cluster and the surrounding region, as detected in X-ray and optical light. The black canvas of space is peppered with colored dots of light of various sizes, mostly in shades of red, green, blue, and white.
      At the center of the image is a semi-transparent, red and yellow cloud of gas encircling a grouping of tightly packed gold stars. The shape and distribution of stars in the cluster call to mind effervescent soda bubbles dancing above the ice cubes of a recently poured beverage.
      News Media Contact
      Megan Watzke
      Chandra X-ray Center
      Cambridge, Mass.
      617-496-7998
      Jonathan Deal
      Marshall Space Flight Center
      Huntsville, Ala.
      256-544-0034
      View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

×
×
  • Create New...