The X-Ray Sky

What if you could see X-rays? If you could, the night sky would be a
strange and unfamiliar place. X-rays are about 1,000 times more energetic than visible
light photons and are produced in violent and high temperature astrophysical
environments. Instead of the familiar steady stars, the sky would seem to be filled
with exotic binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and
black holes, along with flare stars, X-ray bursters, pulsars, supernova remnants
and active galaxies. This X-ray image of the entire sky was constructed with
Skyview, using data from the first High Energy Astronomy Observatory
(HEAO 1), and plotted in a coordinate system centered on the galactic center
with the north galactic pole at the top. Sources near the galactic center are
seen to dominate in this false color map which shows regions of highest X-ray
intensity in yellow. Astronomers' ability to observe the sky at X-ray energies
will be greatly enhanced by the recently launched X-ray Timing Explorer (XTE) satellite.