Research & Development

NASA creates map of the sky using x-ray images

Jun 11, 2019 | 258 views

Researchers in charge of the NICER project believe that, in the near future, it will be possible to create autonomous navigation systems for spacecraft based on gender maps

The NICER is a NASA device that is located on the International Space Station and whose goal, among several assignments, is to measure neutron stars. And what you see below is simply our sky, with images made from x-rays generated by NICER. And, most interestingly, it reveals the various objects discovered and their trajectories.

The image may even look like an air traffic map or a cosmic image made with Photoshop. In fact, it shows the impacts of energy particles. According to NASA, each arc represents an x-ray, and the impacts caused by luminosity are identified by the brightest points.

Routes represent the movement of objects between one point and another. NASA explains that the prominent arcs on the map appear because one instrument usually follows the same routes when it moves to focus on another point. Therefore, the brightest parts represent the most monitored destinations. The device observed these routes for 22 months, which led to these results.

"This image reveals the Cygnus Loop, a remnant of a supernova spanning about 90 light-years. It is estimated to be between 5,000 and 8,000 years old, "says Keith Gendreau, principal investigator at NICER. "We are gradually working on creating a new whole-sky x-ray image, and it is possible that NICER's work will discover new objects."

With these data in hand, the researchers behind the project believe that in the near future this technology can be used to create standalone navigation systems for spacecraft based on gender maps.