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The Chandra X-ray Observatory

Exploring the high energy universe
Dr. Belinda J Wilkes, Dr. Wallace Tucker


NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory has ushered in a revolution in X-ray astronomy. Over the last two decades Chandra has captured stunning celestial X-ray images, measured spectra and monitored light curves to reveal and map the hottest, most energetic regions of the universe. Written by leading experts in each sub-field to celebrate its 20th anniversary, this book includes current reviews of the major discoveries and scientific results made by Chandra. Documenting the progress, discoveries and developments implemented by the mission, this book provides its readers with a comprehensive review of the mission thus far and its potential future implications. Including beautiful images of celestial sources generated from Chandra, and multi-wavelength data, as well as 3D figures and movies, interactive illustrations are also used throughout to enhance the text.

About Editors

Belinda Wilkes is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She has served as a director of the Chandra X-ray Center, which operates the Chandra X-ray Observatory on contract with NASA, since 2014. She is the author or co-author of more than 460 publications, including refereed science papers, book chapters, papers in conference proceedings, abstracts, white papers, and of science articles in the public media.

Wallace Tucker served as the science spokesperson for the Chandra X-ray Center at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for 20 years. He is the author or co-author of six books on astronomy for the general reader, including The X-ray Universe with Riccardo Giacconi; two textbooks Radiative Processes in Astrophysics and Heath Physical Science; as well as the author or co-author of numerous scientific articles and popular articles on astrophysics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 – Chandra X-ray Observatory Overview

Chapter 3 – Mechanisms for the Production and Absorption of Cosmic X-rays

Chapter 4 – X-rays from Stars and Planetary Systems

Chapter 5 – Supernovae and Their Remnants

Chapter 6 – X-ray Binaries

Chapter 7 – X-rays from Galaxies

Chapter 8 – Supermassive Black Holes (Active Galactic Nuclei)

Chapter 9 – Groups and Clusters of Galaxies

Chapter 10 – Galaxy Cluster Cosmology

Chapter 11 – Future X-ray Missions


Hardback ISBN: 9780750321617

Ebook ISBN: 9780750321631

DOI: 10.1088/2514-3433/ab43dc

Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing

Series: AAS-IOP Astronomy


The year 1999 was a great one for X-ray astronomy with the launch of Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton mission within a few months of each other after many decades of effort. You may wonder why (and how) two large X-ray missions were developed in parallel. If so, read this book. Chandra provides extraordinary imaging capability combined with spectroscopy, complementing the larger effective area in imaging provided by XMM-Newton, alongside its spectroscopic and on-board optical capability. This book takes on the challenge of summarizing the scientific impact of Chandra in a modest number of pages.

Paul O'Brien. February 2022, The Observatory

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