Venus by Chandra
Credit: NASA/MPE/K.Dennerl et al.

First X-ray Image of Venus

The image above shows the first ever X-ray image of the planet Venus, obtained by the Chandra X-ray observatory's ACIS camera. The X-rays which Chandra sees are produced by the interaction of solar X-rays with gases in the upper Venusian atmosphere. Because they are formed in the upper atmosphere, the X-rays don't allow us to peer beneath the thick veil of Venus' atmosphere, but they do help astronomers understand the interaction of the planetary atmospher with the solar wind and solar radiation. This X-ray observation was actually a difficult, dangerous observation for other X-ray observatories to make - Venus is so close to the sun that solar X-rays could damage the detector, and in addition the bright sun kept startrackers from other observatories from locking onto Venus for long enough to obtain an image.

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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 December 1, 2001