Black holes seeding universe with the stuff of life?

Supermassive black holes, notorious for ripping apart and swallowing stars, might also help seed interstellar space with the elements necessary for life, such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and iron, scientists say. Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton satellite, scientists at Penn State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found evidence of high-speed winds blowing away copious amounts of gas from the cores of two quasar galaxies, which are thought to be powered by black holes.

Nasa finds 'cocoon' inside the Black Widow's web

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the mysterious “Black Widow” pulsar reveals the first direct evidence of an elongated cocoon of high-energy particles. (A pulsar is a rotating neutron star producing powerful beams of radiation that sweep like a searchlight.) This discovery shows this billion-year-old rejuvenated pulsar is an extremely efficient generator of a high-speed flow of matter and antimatter particles.

NASA observatory reveals pileup on cosmic speedway

Lobes of unexpectedly hot gas speeding away from a black hole in our galaxy have been discovered with NASA ‘s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The high temperature and the distance of the lobes from the black hole indicate that violent collisions are occurring between clumps of gas expelled from the vicinity of the black hole. A key finding was evidence indicating rapidly moving hot iron atoms. “Just like a super-highway, it’s a dangerous world out there,” said Simone Migliari on the University of Amsterdam, lead author on a paper from a September 6, 2002 issue of Science magazine. “Blobs of gas are getting rear-ended at speeds in excess of a hundred million miles per hours!”

Image shows Mars glows in X-rays

This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory has given scientists their first look at X-rays from Mars. In the sparse upper atmosphere of Mars, about 75 miles above its surface, the observed X-rays are produced by fluorescent radiation from oxygen atoms. X-rays from the Sun impact oxygen atoms, knock electrons out of the inner parts of their electron clouds, and excite the atoms to a higher energy level in the process. The atoms almost immediately return to their lower energy state and may emit a fluorescent X-ray in this process with an energy characteristic of the atom involved ? oxygen in this case. A similar process involving ultraviolet light produces the visible light from fluorescent lamps.