Credit: Craig Markwardt, Jean Swank, Tod Strohmayer, Evan
Smith, Divya Pereira; NASA
The Places You've Seen
Imagine being able to track everywhere you've been, throughout your entire life, and then plotting those tracks on a map. If you're lucky, you'd find you spent most of your time visiting the most interesting places, and even the paths you'd chosen to travel would pass by the most interesting things. The image above is such a map for the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, or RXTE. RXTE is a workhorse X-ray satellite dedicated to exploring the variable X-ray sky, and has been doing so for more than a decade. The image above is a representation of all the places in the Universe observed by RXTE over the decade from Jan 2001 through Dec 2010, in Galactic coordinates. Brighter regions are those where RXTE spent more time, fainter regions show more boring regions that mostly skipped over. Individual bright points (like those clustered around the Galactic Center near the middle of the image) are those regions of particular interest that RXTE spent a lot of time staring at. Broad curves show the paths that RXTE took to get from one of those regions to another. RXTE is continually working, even getting data during the time spent in these slews from place to place. Most of the bright objects away from the Galaxy, to the top and bottom of the image, are active galaxies whose supermassive black holes bear watching. There are of course many interesting sources within the Galaxy itself that have been observed by RXTE. RXTE has amassed an impressive number of key science results since its launch in 1995.
Published: May 23, 2011
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Tuesday, 31-May-2011 06:29:37 EDT