This object, known as MSH 11-62, contains an inner nebula of charged particles that could be an outflow from the dense spinning core left behind when a massive star exploded. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane et al; Optical: DSS; Radio: CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA)

2015 has been named the International Year of Light (and light-based technologies) by the United Nations, and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has some special treats to help kick it off.


When a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way, it left behind an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Hughes; Optical: NASA/STScI)

As you can probably guess based on its name, the Chandra X-ray observatory (launched in 1999) captures the X-rays emitted by celestial objects. But X-rays are just one piece of the full spectrum of light.


This supernova remnant is the remains of an exploded star that may have been witnessed by Chinese astronomers almost 2,000 years ago. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI; Radio: NSF/NRAO/AUI/VLA)

These images all combine data from multiple telescopes -- ones that are tuned to capture different wavelengths of light -- to create one stunning picture. You can see the individual shots that made up the composite images at the Chandra Web site.


This composite shows a galaxy 700 million light years away. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/D.Castro et al, Optical: NOAO/AURA/NSF/CTIO)

The observatory is also running a project called "Light: Beyond the Bulb" where scientists and artists can submit their own examples of the power of light. From bio-luminescent lakes to psychedelic shots of light-bulbs under X-rays, the collection will give you a new appreciation of just how beautiful -- and varied -- light is in our universe.

This galaxy, nicknamed the "Whirlpool," is a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, located about 30 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This galaxy, nicknamed the "Whirlpool," is a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, located about 30 million light years from Earth. (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech; Optical: NASA/STScI; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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