The Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT) has seen first light, capturing a dazzling image of Cassiopeia A, a well-known supernova remnant in the Milky Way galaxy, and also has discovered its first gamma-ray-burst afterglow.
First-light image from the Swift X-ray Telescope, of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant. This object is the remnant of a gigantic stellar explosion that occurred in about 1680. The explosion heated the surrounding gas and the remnants of the star to temperatures of several million degrees Celsius. The hot gas has been expanding and cooling for the past 325 years. This image is a true X-ray color image: the lowest X-ray energies are shown in red, the medium energies are in green, and the highest energies are in blue. The bright green filaments are rich in silicon, while red portions are dominated by emission from iron. Supernova remnants like this are responsible for producing much of the material that makes up most of Earth-like planets and for mixing these "heavy" elements into the interstellar gas, where they can form new generations of stars and planets. The image demonstrates that the XRT is working as designed and can perform its job of imaging spectroscopy of astrophysical objects, including the gamma-ray bursts that it was designed to study.
The XRT is one of three instruments aboard the NASA-led Swift satellite, which was launched on 20 November 2004. The XRT was built at Penn State with partners at the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Italy and the University of Leicester in England.
"We have a beautiful image of Cassiopeia A in all its fiery glory, and this is just a test," said David Burrows of Penn State, the lead scientist for the XRT. "Even more exciting is our discovery of our first X-ray afterglow of a gamma-ray burst, which is exactly what the XRT was designed for. No sooner had we turned this on than presto, we bagged our first gamma-ray burst afterglow." Burrows said that the first light and this first afterglow demonstrate that the XRT is working well and that spectacular observations are sure to follow soon.
Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object
23.05.2017 | University of California - Davis
Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence
23.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering