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X-ray craft sees Venus in whole new light

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11:12am, December 5, 2001

Astronomers have unveiled the first X-ray image of Venus, one of Earth's closest neighbors. The observations, taken by the Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory and released last week, may provide new information about the atmosphere of the cloud-covered planet.

Venus doesn't have its own source of X rays. Rather, X rays from the sun induce the Venusian emissions when they bombard the planet's upper atmosphere and are absorbed by ionized atoms. The atoms reemit the incoming radiation at a lower X-ray energy, a process known as fluorescence.

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