Credit: MPE

X-raying the Universe

During the first six months of its life, the ROSAT X-ray space telescope scanned the sky with its X-ray camera, the Position Sensitive Proportional Counter, to obtain the first (and currently only) X-ray image of the entire universe. The image above was compiled from this "X-ray All Sky Survey" produced by the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik (MPE); it shows the variation of temperature of some of the hottest material in the universe, at temperatures between 1 and 20 million degrees. The ROSAT all sky survey is a unique accomplishment and an incredibly rich resource for astronomers. Using these data, for the first time, astronomers could see in full the large X-ray structures in the Milky Way Galaxy, and in other galaxies; could get a nearly complete measurement of bright X-ray sources, including stars in all stages of evolution, and neutron stars and black holes too; could see the shape and brightness of the "diffuse X-ray background", the high energy emission which seems to surround us, and whose origin is still mysterious (but see the recent Chandra results about this!); and could use the shape of the X-ray emission to trace the hidden material making up most of the known Universe.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified June 14, 2001