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Seeing Through Different Eyes

Seeing Through Different Eyes | What is an image? | I'm not lost . . . I've got a map!
So what if the Earth is round?! | A new wrinkle . . . the third dimension. | Earth vs. the Center of the Galaxy

The Milky Way Galaxy
The Milky Way Galaxy
Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered what objects are out there in the heavens?

Of course you have seen the stars, but what exactly is a star?

Surprisingly, there are many kinds of stars, some that are so unusual that a thimbleful of its material would weigh as much as 10 million full sized African elephants! (Read more about this neutron star, the Crab Nebula pulsar.)

What else is out there? And if everything is so far away, how do we even know what these objects are?

The fascinating answers to these questions and many more all lie ahead. But for now, let's look at the following images. They are pictures taken with two different types of telescopes.

What do you see in the picture on the left? What is the difference between the pictures?
Coma Cluster - Visible Light Image Coma Cluster - X-ray Image
Learn more about the Coma Cluster

Surprisingly, the two images above are of the same object. It is a gigantic collection of galaxies, each similar to our own Milky Way, called the Coma Cluster.

The image on the left is an optical image. All the fuzzy, not quite round dots in the picture are entire galaxies of stars! This is the image you would see with your eyes if they were huge lenses. The image on the right is an X-ray image of the Coma Cluster. Using images collected from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, we can learn more about this galaxy cluster.

In the following pages you will learn how we can collect data frm the X-ray universe. You will then learn to interpret this data, in a manner similar to an astrophysicist.

To begin, we will learn what a picture in the sky actually consists of. It contains far more information than you might expect, giving us clues to where the object is, whether or not it is changing its brightness over time, and what energies are being emitted from the object.

Begin your lesson

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