Book Review: Chandra’s Cosmos: Dark Matter, Black Holes, and Other Wonders Revealed by NASA’s Premier X-Ray Observatory
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, sent to orbit during STS-93 by Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999, has rewritten what humanity knows about the universe. A new book works to provide some of the little-known details about one of the space agency’s Great Observatories.
Chandra’s Cosmos: Dark Matter, Black Holes, and Other Wonders Revealed by NASA’s Premier X-Ray Observatory, published by Smithsonian Books and having been released to the public on March 28, 2017, is written by Wallace H. Tucker. Tucker served as the science spokesperson for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and is intimately involved with Chandra. Wallace has extensive experience in this area having written numerous papers and seven books, and he sat down with SpaceFlight Insider to discuss his latest effort.
SpaceFlight Insider: What has been the most rewarding aspect of writing this book?
Wallace: “Telling just a few of the stories of the many new discoveries made with Chandra. The ingenuity of scientists using Chandra’s unique capabilities never ceases to amaze me – from ways to investigate the nature of dark matter to using X-ray observations to study the atmospheres of exoplanets.”
SpaceFlight Insider: Were there any ‘surprises’ that you learned during the production of this book?
Wallace: “The research on black holes, especially the supermassive ones in the centers of galaxies, continues to produce surprises. Some galaxies already have monstrous black holes in their central regions before the galaxies are fully formed. How these black holes formed so quickly and grew to be so massive is still a mystery.”
SpaceFlight Insider: Was there a specific reason you chose to produce this book at this time?
Wallace: “Chandra has been one of the most successful observatories of all time. In terms of discoveries made, scientific papers produced from Chandra observations, it is right up there with the Hubble Space Telescope. Chandra is also part of a larger picture wherein high-resolution imaging at X-ray, optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths is enabling advances in understanding on many fronts: dark matter, black holes, galaxies, stars, and exoplanets. I wanted to produce a book that told at least part of that story.”
At 272 pages, Chandra’s Cosmos: Dark Matter, Black Holes, and Other Wonders Revealed by NASA’s Premier X-Ray Observatory is a concise, yet detailed, read that chronicles many of Chandra’s important discoveries. The book is priced at $29.95 and is a great addition to the libraries of astronomy and space exploration enthusiasts alike.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.