A STUNNING photo that shows the night sky as you’ve never seen it before has been released by Nasa.
The image was snapped from space by a special telescope that tracks rogue cosmic rays in areas beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
2 An X-ray telescope took this snap of the night sky. Each arc traces X-rays, as well as occasional strikes from energetic particles, captured by Nasa’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) tool. Each bright point is a result of these factors as well as the time NICER spent looking in that direction – typically because they were points of interestCredit: Nasa
Its sparkling dots and tangling loops have been described as a “golden fireworks display” by space fans.
The picture was taken by an instrument aboard the International Space Station called the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER).
“NICER’s primary science goals require that it target and track cosmic sources as the station orbits Earth every 93 minutes,” Nasa said.
“But when the Sun sets and night falls on the orbital outpost, the NICER team keeps its detectors active while the payload slews from one target to another, which can occur up to eight times each orbit.”
2 Nasa all put together a version that shows key points on the imageCredit: Nasa
The result is a crisscross of patterns that resemble an Etch A Sketch drawing.
According to Nasa, the map includes data from the first 22 months of NICER’s science operations.
Each arc traces X-rays, as well as occasional strikes from energetic particles, captured during NICER’s night moves.
Each bright point is a result of these factors as well as the time NICER spent looking in that direction – typically because they were points of interest.
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A diffuse glow permeates the X-ray sky even far from bright sources.”
“Even with minimal processing, this image reveals the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant about 90 light-years across and thought to be 5,000 to 8,000 years old,” said Keith Gendreau, who heads up the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, USA.
“We’re gradually building up a new X-ray image of the whole sky, and it’s possible NICER’s nighttime sweeps will uncover previously unknown sources.”
NICER’s main goal is to figure out the size of remains of dead stars called neutron stars. It will continue its mission until September, 2019.
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