High Energy Astronomy Observatory (HEAO)




This image of the suspected Black Hole, Cygnus X-1, was the first object seen by the High Energy Astronomy Observatory (HEAO)-2/Einstein Observatory. According to the theories to date, one concept of a black hole is a star, perhaps 10 times more massive than the Sun, that has entered the last stages of stelar evolution. There is an explosion triggered by nuclear reactions after which the star's outer shell of lighter elements and gases is blown away into space and the heavier elements in the stellar core begin to collapse upon themselves. Once this collapse begins, the inexorable force of gravity continues to compact the material until it becomes so dense it is squeezed into a mere point and nothing can escape from its extreme gravitational field, not even light. The HEAO-2, the first imaging and largest x-ray telescope built to date, was capable of producing actual photographs of x-ray objects. Shortly after launch, the HEAO-2 was nicknamed the Einstein Observatory by its scientific experimenters in honor of the centernial of the birth of Albert Einstein, whose concepts of relativity and gravitation have influenced much of modern astrophysics, particularly x-ray astronomy.

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  • Title: High Energy Astronomy Observatory (HEAO)
  • Date Created: 1980-01-01
  • Rights: MSFC
  • Album: rlobrie1