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NASA Announces Televised Chandra News Conference About Discovery of Exceptional Object

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 15, to discuss the Chandra X-ray Observatory's discovery of an exceptional object in our cosmic neighborhood.

Chandra X-Ray
The news conference will originate from NASA Headquarters' television studio, 300 E St. SW in Washington and carried live on NASA TV.

Scientists involved in the research will be available to answer questions. Panelists providing analysis of the research include:

- Jon Morse, director, Astrophysics Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington

- Kimberly Weaver, astrophysicist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

- Alex Filippenko, astrophysicist, University of California, Berkeley

 

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and further information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/chandra

 

Nobody seems to know what this discovery is about. NASA's announcement could not be more vague, which I reckon was their intention to keep press and public particularly excited about the conference. The official announcement states that this object is within our cosmic neighbourhood. I found this one rather funny since there is no consensus about how far our cosmic neighbourhood reaches. It could be our solar system, our galaxy, the local group or any other galaxy within certain distance. Having read through many forums and news boards it does seem that no one really knows. I think, however, one of these two are the best candidates for this discovery:

The first candidate is a discovery by NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope, which found giant gamma ray bubbles at the heart of the galaxy. You have probably noticed that that I am talking about discovery that was not made by the Chandra X-Ray telescope, which contradicts NASA's announcement. The interesting bit is that Finkbeiner says that locating structures like this around other galaxies could shed light on their formation, though current technology limits the resolution of gamma-ray telescopes. X-ray telescopes like Chandra might have already seen evidence of them, though that data will have to be reassessed. Therefore, I reckon that gamma ray bubbles might also be a good candidate for two reasons. First is that they discovery is really recent and second is that there are mentioning Chandra telescope and reassessing its data. The picture below shows these gamma ray bubbles. 

 Gamma Ray Bubbles

Image: NASA

 

My second bet that this announcement will be about the recent discovery coming directly from Chandra observatory. Below is the picture of the discovered galaxy cluster and a  short summary from NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory website.

 

Galaxy Cluster 

Image: NASA 

 

"NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an unusual galaxy cluster that contains a bright core of relatively cool gas surrounding a quasar called 3C 186. This is the most distant such object yet observed, and could provide insight into the triggering of quasars and the growth of galaxy clusters. What makes this particular galaxy cluster and its strong cooling core interesting is its age. 3C 186 is about 8 billion light years away from Earth, making it the most distant known galaxy cluster to contain a prominent cooling core."

 

Let's wait till Monday's (15 November 2010) conference to see what is this exceptional object. Having read through various forums, the expectations vary since the word exceptional will definitely mean different things to different people. For example on UFO and New-age like sites people are expecting big things like confirmation of existence of planet Nibru or aliens or something similar. This is of course understandable given their belief systems. In other words, these people are trying to project their beliefs onto this or similar discoveries. I do not want to sound disappointing but I seriously doubt that any of this is going to reveled by this particular discovery. For keen astrophysicists the meaning of the word exceptional is most likely to be very different and might simply mean that the discovered object is going to help us better understand how the universe or individual stars or galaxies formed.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 November 2010 14:18