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The first decade of science with Chandra and XMM-Newton


NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the ESA’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) made their first observations ten years ago. The complementary capabilities of these observatories allow us to make high-resolution images and precisely measure the energy of cosmic X-rays. Less than 50 years after the first detection of an extrasolar X-ray source, these observatories have achieved an increase in sensitivity comparable to going from naked-eye observations to the most powerful optical telescopes over the past 400 years. We highlight some of the many discoveries made by Chandra and XMM-Newton that have transformed twenty-first century astronomy.

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Figure 1: Chandra image of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant.
Figure 2: Composite of XMM-Newton optical-ultraviolet and X-ray images of the starburst galaxy Messier 82.
Figure 3: Portion of an XMM-Newton reflection-grating spectrum of the disk of Mars.
Figure 4: XMM-Newton X-ray spectra of different types of stars.
Figure 5: Deep Chandra image of the Orion nebula cluster.
Figure 6: Chandra (2″ × 2″) images detailing the expanding and brightening ring surrounding the stellar explosion SN 1987A.
Figure 7: Chandra (2′ × 2′) image of the Crab nebula and pulsar.
Figure 8: X-ray image of thousands of sources in the XMM-Newton COSMOS field.
Figure 9: Chandra image of Centaurus A.
Figure 10: Colliding clusters of galaxies and dark matter.


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We feel privileged to be a part of the teams responsible for Chandra and XMM-Newton and wish to acknowledge both NASA and ESA for their continued support for these missions. We also acknowledge the contributions of the thousands throughout the world who have worked so hard to make these observatories so successful.

Author Contributions All of the authors worked together to produce the manuscript. M.C.W. led the effort on Solar System objects; M.S.-L. on individual stars and star-forming regions; M.C.W. on supernova remnants and massive stellar black holes; N.S. on supermassive black hole census and evolution; H.T. and W.T. on supermassive black holes and clusters of galaxies; and N.S. on dark matter and dark energy. W.T. served most ably as editor and supported all the sections. M.C.W. was the executive editor.

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Correspondence to Martin C. Weisskopf.

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Santos-Lleo, M., Schartel, N., Tananbaum, H. et al. The first decade of science with Chandra and XMM-Newton. Nature 462, 997–1004 (2009).

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