The Einstein Observatory: New Perspectives in Astronomy

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Science  22 Aug 1980:
Vol. 209, Issue 4459, pp. 865-876
DOI: 10.1126/science.209.4459.865


High-sensitivity x-ray measurements with the recently launched Einstein Observatory are having a major impact on wide areas of astronomical research. The x-ray luminosity of young O, B, and A stars and late K and M stars is found to be several orders of magnitude greater than predicted by current theories of coronal heating. Detailed x-ray images and spectra of supernova remnants are providing new information on the temperature, composition, and distribution of material ejected in supernova explosions as well as of the material comprising the interstellar medium. Observations of galaxies are yielding insights on the formation and evolution of stellar systems and galaxies over a wide range of variables. X-ray time variations are being used to probe the underlying energy source in quasars and active galactic nuclei. The distribution of mass in clusters of galaxies is being traced through detailed x-ray images, and the data are being used to classify clusters and trace their formation and evolution. Substantial progress is being made in several areas of cosmological research, particularly in the study of the diffuse x-ray background.