NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array

Find out the latest thinking about our universe.
User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:13 pm

NASA's NuSTAR Ships to Vandenberg for March 14 Launch
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 Jan 25
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Tuesday, to be mated to its Pegasus launch vehicle. The observatory will detect X-rays from objects ranging from our sun to giant black holes billions of light-years away. It is scheduled to launch March 14 from an aircraft operating out of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

"The NuSTAR mission is unique because it will be the first NASA mission to focus X-rays in the high-energy range, creating the most detailed images ever taken in this slice of the electromagnetic spectrum," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

The observatory shipped from Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Va., where the spacecraft and science instrument were integrated. It is scheduled to arrive at Vandenberg on Jan. 27, where it will be mated to the Pegasus, also built by Orbital, on Feb. 17.

The mission will be launched from the L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft, which will take off near the equator from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. NuSTAR and its Pegasus will fly from Vandenberg to Kwajalein attached to the underside of the L-1011, and are scheduled to arrive on March 7.

On launch day, after the airplane arrives at the planned drop site over the ocean, the Pegaus will drop from the L-1011 and carry NuSTAR to an orbit around Earth.

"NuSTAR is an engineering achievement, incorporating state-of-the-art high-energy X-ray mirrors and detectors that will enable years of astronomical discovery," said Yunjin Kim, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

NuSTAR's advanced telescope consists of two sets of 133 concentric shells of mirrors, which were shaped from flexible glass similar to that found in laptop screens. Because X-rays require large focusing distances, or focal lengths, the telescope has a lengthy 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which will unfold a week after launch.

These and other advances in technology will enable NuSTAR to explore the cosmic world of high-energy X-rays with much improved sensitivity and resolution over previous missions. During its two-year primary mission, NuSTAR will map the celestial sky in X-rays, surveying black holes, mapping supernova remnants, and studying particle jets travelling away from black holes near the speed of light.

NuSTAR also will probe the sun, looking for microflares theorized to be on the surface that could explain how the sun's million-degree corona, or atmosphere, is heated. It will even test a theory of dark matter, the mysterious substance making up about one-quarter of our universe, by searching the sun for evidence of a hypothesized dark matter particle.

"NuSTAR will provide an unprecedented capability to discover and study some of the most exotic objects in the universe, from the corpses of exploded stars in the Milky Way to supermassive black holes residing in the hearts of distant galaxies," said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

http://www.nasa.gov/nustar
http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

UT: NASA’s New Eyes in the Sky

Post by bystander » Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:55 pm

NASA’s New Eyes in the Sky
Universe Today | Amy Shira Teitel | 2012 Jan 29
On March 14, NASA will launch the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR. This is the first time a telescope will focus on high energy X-rays, effectively opening up the sky for more sensitive study. The telescope will target black holes, supernova explosions, and will study the most extreme active galaxies. NuSTAR’s use of high-energy X-rays have an added bonus: it will be able to capture and compose the most detailed images ever taken in this end of the electromagnetic spectrum.

NuSTAR’s eyes are two Wolter-I optic units; once in orbit each will ‘look’ at the same patch of sky. The Wolter-I mirror works by reflecting an X-ray twice, once off of an upper mirror shaped like a parabola and again off a lower mirror shaped like a hyperbola. The mirrors are nearly parallel to the direction of the incoming X-ray, reflecting most of the X-ray instead of absorbing it, but the slight angle allows for a very small collection area per surface. To get a full picture, mirrors of varying size are nested together.

Each of NuSTAR’s eyes, each unit, are made of 133 concentric shells of mirrors shaped from flexible glass like that found in laptop computer screens. This is an improvement over past mission like Chandra and XMM-Newton that both used high density materials such as Platinum, Iridium and Gold as mirror coatings. These materials achieve great reflectivity for low energy X-rays but can’t capture high energy X-rays.
Like human eyes, NuSTAR’s optical units are co-aligned to give the telescope a wider field of view and enable the capture of more sensitive images. These images will be made into detailed composites by scientists on the ground.

Also like human eyes, NuSTAR’s optical units need to be distanced from one another since X-ray telescopes require long focal lengths. In other words, the optics must be separated by several meters from the detectors. NuSTAR does this with a 33 foot (10 metre) long mast or boom between units.

Previous X-ray missions have accommodated these long focal lengths by launching fully deployed observatories on large rockets. NuSTAR won’t. It has a unique deployable mast that will extend once the payload is in orbit. This allows for a launch on the small Pegasus rocket. Undeployed, the telescope measures just 2 metres in length and one metre in diameter.

During its two-year primary mission, NuSTAR will map the celestial sky focussing on black holes, supernova remnants, and particle jets traveling near the speed of light. It will also look at the Sun. Observations of microflares could explain the temperature of the Sun’s corona. It will also search the Sun for evidence of a hypothesized dark matter particle to test a theory about dark matter.

“NuSTAR will provide an unprecedented capability to discover and study some of the most exotic objects in the universe, from the corpses of exploded stars in the Milky Way to supermassive black holes residing in the hearts of distant galaxies,” said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The telescope shipped from the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on January 27. There, it will be mated to its Pegasus launch vehicle on February 17. It will launch from underneath the L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft on March 14 after taking off near the equator from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: Launch of NuSTAR Mission Postponed

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:19 pm

Launch of NASA's NuSTAR Mission Postponed
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 Mar 16
The planned launch of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission has been postponed after a March 15 launch status meeting. The launch will be rescheduled to allow additional time to confirm the flight software used by the launch vehicle's flight computer will issue commands to the rocket as intended.

The spacecraft will lift off on an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket, which will be released from an aircraft taking off from the Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The time required to complete the software review has moved NuSTAR beyond the March timeframe currently available on the range at Kwajalein. In the interim, NASA will coordinate with the launch site to determine the earliest possible launch opportunity. This is expected to be within the next two months.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: NASA's NuSTAR Gearing up for Launch

Post by bystander » Wed May 23, 2012 3:02 am

NASA's NuSTAR Gearing up for Launch
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 May 22
Final pre-launch preparations are underway for NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The mission, which will use X-ray vision to hunt for hidden black holes, is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The observatory will launch from the belly of Orbital Sciences Corporation's L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft aboard the company's Pegasus rocket.

Technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California are busy installing the rocket's fairing, or nose cone, around the observatory. A flight computer software evaluation is also nearing completion and should be finished before the Flight Readiness Review, which is scheduled for June 1. A successful launch simulation of the Orbital Sciences' Pegasus XL rocket was conducted last week.

The mission plan is for NuSTAR and its rocket to be attached to the Stargazer plane on June 2. The aircraft will depart California on June 5 and arrive at the Kwajalein launch site on June 6. The launch of NuSTAR from the plane is targeted for 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT) on June 13.

For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/nustar.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: NASA Preparing to Launch its Newest X-Ray Eyes

Post by bystander » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:17 pm

NASA Preparing to Launch its Newest X-Ray Eyes
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 May 30
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is being prepared for the final journey to its launch pad on Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. The mission will study everything from massive black holes to our own sun. It is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13.

"We will see the hottest, densest and most energetic objects with a fundamentally new, high-energy X-ray telescope that can obtain much deeper and crisper images than before," said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., who first conceived of the mission 20 years ago.

The observatory is perched atop an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket. If the mission passes its Flight Readiness Review on June 1, the rocket will be strapped to the bottom of an aircraft, the L-1011 Stargazer, also operated by Orbital, on June 2. The Stargazer is scheduled to fly from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California to Kwajalein on June 5 to 6.

After taking off on launch day, the Stargazer will drop the rocket around 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). The rocket will then ignite and carry NuSTAR to a low orbit around Earth.

"NuSTAR uses several innovations for its unprecedented imaging capability and was made possible by many partners," said Yunjin Kim, the project manager for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We're all really excited to see the fruition of our work begin its mission in space."

NuSTAR will be the first space telescope to create focused images of cosmic X-rays with the highest energies. These are the same types of X-rays that doctors use to see your bones and airports use to scan your bags. The telescope will have more than 10 times the resolution and more than 100 times the sensitivity of its predecessors while operating in a similar energy range.

The mission will work with other telescopes in space now, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which observes lower-energy X-rays. Together, they will provide a more complete picture of the most energetic and exotic objects in space, such as black holes, dead stars and jets traveling near the speed of light.

"NuSTAR truly demonstrates the value that NASA's research and development programs provide in advancing the nation's science agenda," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director. "Taking just over four years from receiving the project go-ahead to launch, this low-cost Explorer mission will use new mirror and detector technology that was developed in NASA's basic research program and tested in NASA's scientific ballooning program. The result of these modest investments is a small space telescope that will provide world-class science in an important but relatively unexplored band of the electromagnetic spectrum."

NuSTAR will study black holes that are big and small, far and near, answering questions about the formation and physics behind these wonders of the cosmos. The observatory will also investigate how exploding stars forge the elements that make up planets and people, and it will even study our own sun's atmosphere.

The observatory is able to focus the high-energy X-ray light into sharp images because of a complex, innovative telescope design. High-energy light is difficult to focus because it only reflects off mirrors when hitting at nearly parallel angles. NuSTAR solves this problem with nested shells of mirrors. It has the most nested shells ever used in a space telescope: 133 in each of two optic units. The mirrors were molded from ultra-thin glass similar to that found in laptop screens and glazed with even thinner layers of reflective coating.

The telescope also consists of state-of-the-art detectors and a lengthy 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which connects the detectors to the nested mirrors, providing the long distance required to focus the X-rays. This mast is folded up into a canister small enough to fit atop the Pegasus launch vehicle. It will unfurl about seven days after launch. About 23 days later, science operations will begin.

McGill researcher helps NASA open a new window on the universe
McGill University, Canada | 2012 May 30
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: NuSTAR Strapped to its Plane

Post by bystander » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:57 am

NuSTAR Strapped to its Plane
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 June 04
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is now perched atop its Pegasus XL rocket, strapped to the plane that will carry the mission to an airborne launch. Launch is scheduled for June 13, no earlier than 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT).

The plane -- the L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft -- is now at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. It is scheduled to fly to Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean from June 5 to 6. About an hour before launch, the plane will lift off from the island, and drop NuSTAR and its rocket over the ocean. The rocket will then ignite, carrying NuSTAR to its final orbit around Earth's equator.

NuSTAR will be the first space telescope to create sharp images of X-rays with high energies, similar to those used by doctors and dentists. It will conduct a census for black holes, map radioactive material in young supernovae remnants, and study the origins of cosmic rays and extreme physics around collapsed stars
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

UT: Newest X-Ray Observatory Will Hunt for Black Holes ...

Post by bystander » Tue Jun 05, 2012 11:16 pm

Newest X-Ray Observatory Will Hunt for Black Holes and More
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2012 June 05
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
The next launch of a NASA space mission is the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. It study wide range of objects in space, from massive black holes to our own Sun, and will be the first space telescope to create focused images of cosmic X-rays with the highest energies.

“We will see the hottest, densest and most energetic objects with a fundamentally new, high-energy X-ray telescope that can obtain much deeper and crisper images than before,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator, who has been working on this project for 20 years.

Meanwhile, NASA has cancelled another X-ray telescope, the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) X-ray telescope, an astrophysics mission that was going to launch in 2014 to observe the space near neutron stars and black holes. GEMS failed meet a the qualifications of a confirmation review and was heading to go over budget.

“The decision was made to non-confirm GEMS,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysic Division, at a meeting of the National Research Council’s Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics. “The rationale was that the pre-confirmation cost and schedule growth was too large.” The project was going well over the initial cost of $105 million and was facing a delay in launch.

But NuSTAR is scheduled to launch on June 13 from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. The X-ray space telescope will initially take off on a L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft, and then launch in midair into orbit on a Pegasus XL rocket from Orbital Sciences.

The mission has been awaiting launch since March, when NASA delayed its liftoff pending a review of the rocket.

NuSTAR will work with other telescopes in space now, including NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which observes lower-energy X-rays. Together, they will provide a more complete picture of the most energetic and exotic objects in space, such as black holes, dead stars and jets traveling near the speed of light.

This new observatory looks with X-rays similar to the X-rays used in hospitals and airports, but the telescope will have more than 10 times the resolution and more than 100 times the sensitivity of previous telescopes.

“NuSTAR uses several innovations for its unprecedented imaging capability and was made possible by many partners,” said Yunjin Kim, the project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We’re all really excited to see the fruition of our work begin its mission in space.”

NuSTAR has an innovative design using a nested shell of mirrors to provide better focus. It also has state-of-the-art detectors and a large 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which connects the detectors to the nested mirrors, providing the long distance required to focus the X-rays. This mast is folded up into a canister small enough to fit atop the Pegasus launch vehicle. It will unfurl about seven days after launch. About 23 days later, science operations will begin.
The mission will focus on studying the formation of black holes and investigate how exploding stars forge the elements that make up planets and people, along with study the Sun’s atmosphere.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR to Drop From Plane and Rocket Into Space

Post by bystander » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:02 pm

NuSTAR to Drop From Plane and Rocket Into Space
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 June 11
[img3="The Orbital Science Corporation's "Stargazer" plane is shown releasing its Pegasus rocket. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)"]http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/nustar/2 ... 2-full.jpg[/img3]
NASA's NuSTAR mission is scheduled to launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean on June 13, no earlier than 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). The observatory, which will hunt for black holes and other exotic objects using specialized X-ray eyes, will be launched from a Pegasus XL rocket carried by an Orbital Science Corporation L-1011 "Stargazer" plane. The plane will take off from Kwajalein Atoll an hour before launch, flying out over the Pacific Ocean.

About five seconds before launch, the Pegasus XL rocket -- also from Orbital -- will drop from the plane, ignite and propel NuSTAR to space. A video showing a previous Pegasus launch is online.

Why launch from the air? Plane-assisted launches are less expensive than those that take place from the ground. Less fuel is needed to boost cargo away from the pull of Earth's gravity. NuSTAR is part of NASA's Small Explorer program, which builds focused science missions at relatively low costs.

If all goes as planned, the following milestones will occur on June 13. Times listed are for a launch at the start of a four-hour window.
  • Takeoff

    The Stargazer carrier aircraft, with the Pegasus launch vehicle and NuSTAR spacecraft strapped to its belly, will take off from Kwajalein's Bucholz Auxiliary Airfield an hour before launch, and climb to an altitude of about 39,000 feet (11,900 meters). This should occur around 7:30 a.m. PDT (10:30 a.m. EDT).

    The Drop

    The carrier aircraft will release the Pegasus rocket at 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). The rocket will free-fall for about five seconds before igniting.

    Ignition

    At about 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT), the rocket carrying NuSTAR will ignite. Its first-stage motor will burn for 70 seconds and then drop away. The second-stage motor will burn for about a minute-and-a-half.

    Splitting the Nose Cone

    While the second stage is burning, pyrotechnic devices will be fired to release the nose cone, or fairing, that encapsulates the observatory. NuSTAR will be exposed to space for the first time. This event is scheduled to occur around 8:33 a.m. PDT (11:33 a.m. EDT).

    Separating From the Rocket

    At about 8:43 a.m. PDT (11:43 a.m. EDT), 13 minutes after the initial release from the Stargazer, NuSTAR will separate from the Pegasus rocket's third stage. At this point, NuSTAR will be in its final orbit -- a low-Earth equatorial orbit at an altitude of approximately 340 miles (600 kilometers) and an inclination of six degrees.

    Phoning Home

    When NuSTAR separates from the Pegasus, the satellite's system that controls its orientation in space, or "attitude," will begin to stabilize it, and the spacecraft solar arrays will be deployed. Around this time, its first signal will be received on the ground via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. Over the following week, NuSTAR personnel will perform a series of checkouts to ensure that all spacecraft subsystems are operating nominally.

    Deploying the Boom

    Roughly one week after launch, engineers will command NuSTAR to deploy its lengthy 33-foot (10-meter) boom, allowing the telescope to focus X-ray light into crisp images. Unlike visible-light telescopes, X-ray telescopes require a long distance between the mirrors and detectors to focus the light. It's a bit like wearing glasses a few feet away from your face.

    Science operations are expected to begin about 30 days after launch.
On launch day, live commentary and coverage will be broadcast online beginning at 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT) at http://www.nasa.gov/nustar and at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: NASA's NuSTAR Mission Lifts Off

Post by bystander » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:40 pm

NASA's NuSTAR Mission Lifts Off
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 June 13
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched into the morning skies over the central Pacific Ocean at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) Wednesday, beginning its mission to unveil secrets of buried black holes and other exotic objects.

"We have been eagerly awaiting the launch of this novel X-ray observatory," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division Director. "With its unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution to the previously poorly explored hard X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum, NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and will provide complementary data to NASA's larger missions, including Fermi, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer."

NuSTAR will use a unique set of eyes to see the highest energy X-ray light from the cosmos. The observatory can see through gas and dust to reveal black holes lurking in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as those hidden in the hearts of faraway galaxies.

"NuSTAR will help us find the most elusive and most energetic black holes, to help us understand the structure of the universe," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The observatory began its journey aboard a L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft, operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. NuSTAR was perched atop Orbital's Pegasus XL rocket, both of which were strapped to the belly of the Stargazer plane. The plane left Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean one hour before launch. At 9:00:35 a.m. PDT (12:00:35 p.m. EDT), the rocket dropped, free-falling for five seconds before firing its first-stage motor.

About 13 minutes after the rocket dropped, NuSTAR separated from the rocket, reaching its final low Earth orbit. The first signal from the spacecraft was received at 9:14 a.m. PDT (12:14 p.m. EDT) via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

"NuSTAR spread its solar panels to charge the spacecraft battery and then reported back to Earth of its good health," said Yunjin Kim, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We are checking out the spacecraft now and are excited to tune into the high-energy X-ray sky."

The mission's unique telescope design includes a 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which was folded up in a small canister during launch. In about seven days, engineers will command the mast to extend, enabling the telescope to focus properly. About 23 days later, science operations are scheduled to begin.

In addition to black holes and their powerful jets, NuSTAR will study a host of high-energy objects in our universe, including the remains of exploded stars; compact, dead stars; and clusters of galaxies. The mission's observations, in coordination with other telescopes such as NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which detects lower-energy X-rays, will help solve fundamental cosmic mysteries. NuSTAR also will study our sun's fiery atmosphere, looking for clues as to how it is heated.

NuSTAR Space Telescope Blasts Off
California Institute of Technology | 2012 June 13

Successful launch for NuSTAR on a Pegasus XL
Planetary Society | Emily Lakdawalla | 2012 June 13

NuSTAR launches into orbit!
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2012 June 13

Black Hole Hunter Drops from a Plane, Zooms to Orbit
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2012 June 13

With some help from Stanford and SLAC, an orbiting telescope sees the universe's X-rays
Stanford University | 2012 June 13
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Science@NASA: Why Won't the Supernova Explode?

Post by bystander » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:47 am

Why Won't the Supernova Explode?
NASA Science News | ScienceCast | Patrick Barry, Dr. Tony Phillips | 2012 June 15
Click to play embedded YouTube video.

Somewhere in the Milky Way, a massive old star is about to die a spectacular death. As its nuclear fuel runs out, the star begins to collapse under its own tremendous weight. Crushing pressure triggers new nuclear reactions, setting the stage for a terrifying blast. And then... nothing happens.

At least that's what supercomputers have been telling astrophysicists for decades. Many of the best computer models of supernovas fail to produce an explosion. At the end of the simulation, gravity wins the day and the star simply collapses.

Clearly, physicists are missing something.

"We don't fully understand how supernovas of massive stars work yet," says Fiona Harrison, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology.

To figure out what’s going on, Harrison and colleagues would like to examine the inside of a real supernova while it's exploding. That's not possible, so they're doing the next best thing.

Using a telescope named "NuSTAR" --short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array -- they'll be scanning the debris from supernovas as soon as possible after the blast.

Launched over the Pacific Ocean on June 13, 2012, by a Pegasus XL rocket, NuSTAR is the first space telescope that can focus very high-energy X-rays, producing images roughly 100 times sharper than those possible with previous high-energy X-ray telescopes.

When NuSTAR finishes its check-out and becomes fully operational, scientists will use it to scan supernovas for clues etched into the pattern of elements spread throughout the explosion's debris.

"The distribution of the material in a supernova remnant tells you a lot about the original explosion,” says Harrison.

An element of particular interest is titanium-44. Creating this isotope of titanium through nuclear fusion requires a certain combination of energy, pressure, and raw materials. Inside the collapsing star, that combination occurs at a depth that's very special. Everything below that depth succumbs to gravity and collapses inward to form a black hole. Everything above that depth will be blown outward in the explosion. Titanium-44 is created right at the cusp.

So the pattern of how titanium-44 is spread throughout a supernova remnant can reveal a lot about what happened at that crucial threshold during the explosion. And with that information, scientists might be able to figure out what's wrong with their computer simulations.

Some scientists believe the computer models are too symmetrical. Until recently, even with powerful supercomputers, scientists have only been able to simulate a one-dimensional sliver of the star. Scientists just assume that the rest of the star behaves similarly, making the simulated implosion the same in all radial directions.

But what if that assumption is wrong?

"Asymmetries could be the key," Harrison says. In an asymmetrical collapse, outward forces could break through in some places even if the crush of gravity is overpowering in others. Indeed, more recent, two-dimensional simulations suggest that asymmetries could help solve the mystery of the "non-exploding supernova."

If NuSTAR finds that titanium-44 is spread unevenly, it would be evidence that the explosions themselves were also asymmetrical, Harrison explains.

To detect titanium-44, NuSTAR needs to be able to focus very high energy X-rays. Titanium-44 is radioactive, and when it decays it releases photons with an energy of 68 thousand electron volts. Existing X-ray space telescopes, such as NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, can focus X-rays only up to about 15 thousand electron volts.

Normal lenses can't focus X-rays at all. Glass bends X-rays only a miniscule amount—not enough to form an image.

X-ray telescopes use an entirely different kind of "lens" consisting of many concentric shells. They look a bit like the layers of a cylindrical onion.

Incoming X-rays pass between these layers, which guide the X-rays to the focal surface. It's not a lens, strictly speaking, because the X-rays reflect off the surfaces of the shells instead of passing through them, but the end result is the same.

The NuSTAR team has spent years perfecting delicate manufacturing techniques required to make high-precision X-ray optics for NuSTAR that work at energies as high as 79 thousand electron volts.

Their efforts could end up answering the question, "Why won't the supernova explode?"

Supernova research is just for starters. NuSTAR will also study black holes, blazars, pulsars, and many more exotic objects. The high-energy Universe is about to come into sharper focus—and no one can say what surprises may be in store.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

JPL: NuSTAR Unfurls its Unique Mast

Post by bystander » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:40 pm

NuSTAR Mission Status Report: Observatory Unfurls its Unique Mast
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 June 21
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has successfully deployed its lengthy mast, giving it the ability to see the highest energy X-rays in our universe. The mission is one step closer to beginning its hunt for black holes hiding in our Milky Way and other galaxies.

"It's a real pleasure to know that the mast, an accomplished feat of engineering, is now in its final position," said Yunjin Kim, the NuSTAR project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Kim was also the project manager for the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which flew a similar mast on the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2000 and made topographic maps of Earth.

NuSTAR's mast is one of several innovations allowing the telescope to take crisp images of high-energy X-rays for the first time. It separates the telescope mirrors from the detectors, providing the distance needed to focus the X-rays. Built by ATK Aerospace Systems in Goleta, Calif., this is the first deployable mast ever used on a space telescope.

On June 21 at 10:43 a.m. PDT (1:43 p.m. EDT), nine days after launch, engineers at NuSTAR's mission control at UC Berkeley in California sent a signal to the spacecraft to start extending the 33-foot (10-meter) mast, a stable, rigid structure consisting of 56 cube-shaped units. Driven by a motor, the mast steadily inched out of a canister as each cube was assembled one by one. The process took about 26 minutes. Engineers and astronomers cheered seconds after they received word from the spacecraft that the mast was fully deployed and secure.

The NuSTAR team will now begin to verify the pointing and motion capabilities of the satellite, and fine-tune the alignment of the mast. In about five days, the team will instruct NuSTAR to take its "first light" pictures, which are used to calibrate the telescope.

Why did NuSTAR need such a long, arm-like structure? The answer has to do with the fact that X-rays behave differently than the visible light we see with our eyes. Sunlight easily reflects off surfaces, giving us the ability to see the world around us in color. X-rays, on the other hand, are not readily reflected: they either travel right through surfaces, as is the case with skin during medical X-rays, or they tend to be absorbed, by substances like your bone, for example. To focus X-rays onto the detectors at the back of a telescope, the light must hit mirrors at nearly parallel angles; if they were to hit head-on, they would be absorbed instead of reflected.

On NuSTAR, this is accomplished with two barrels of nested mirrors, each containing 133 shells, which reflect the X-rays to the back of the telescope. Because the reflecting angle is so shallow, the distance between the mirrors and the detectors is long. This is called the focal length, and it is maintained by NuSTAR's mast.

The fully extended mast is too large to launch in the lower-cost rockets required for relatively inexpensive Small Explorer class missions like NuSTAR. Instead NuSTAR launched on its Orbital Science Corporation's Pegasus rocket tucked inside a small canister. This rocket isn't as expensive as its bigger cousins because it launches from the air, with the help of a carrier plane, the L-1011 "Stargazer," also from Orbital.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR Opens Its X-Ray Eyes

Post by bystander » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:43 pm

Space Telescope Opens Its X-Ray Eyes
NASA JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 June 28
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has snapped its first test images of the sizzling high-energy X-ray universe. The observatory, launched June 13, is the first space telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-rays, the same kind used by doctors and dentists, into crisp images.

Soon, the mission will begin its exploration of hidden black holes; fiery cinder balls left over from star explosions; and other sites of extreme physics in our cosmos.

"Today, we obtained the first-ever focused images of the high-energy X-ray universe," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who first conceived of NuSTAR about 15 years ago. "It's like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing aspects of the world around us clearly for the first time."

NuSTAR's lengthy mast, which provides the telescope mirrors and detectors with the distance needed to focus X-rays, was deployed on June 21. The NuSTAR team spent the next week verifying the pointing and motion capabilities of the satellite, and fine-tuning the alignment of the mast.

The first images from the observatory show Cygnus X-1, a black hole in our galaxy that is siphoning gas off a giant-star companion. This particular black hole was chosen as a first target because it is extremely bright in X-rays, allowing the NuSTAR team to easily see where the telescope's focused X-rays are falling on the detectors.

In the next two weeks, the team will point at two other bright calibration targets: G21.5-0.9, the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred several thousand years ago in our own Milky Way galaxy; and 3C273, an actively feeding black hole, or quasar, located 2 billion light-years away at the center of another galaxy. These targets will be used to make a small adjustment to place the X-ray light at the optimum spot on the detector, and to further calibrate and understand the telescope in preparation for future science observations.

Other telescopes, including NASA's Swift and Chandra space telescopes, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, will look at 3C273 in coordination with NuSTAR, helping to further calibrate the telescope.

The mission's primary observing program is expected to commence within two weeks.

"This is a really exciting time for the team," said Daniel Stern, the NuSTAR project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We can already see the power of NuSTAR to crack open the high-energy X-ray universe and reveal secrets that were impossible to get at before."

First Light Image for NuSTAR
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2012 June 29
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR Spots Flare From Milky Way's Black Hole

Post by bystander » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:02 am

NuSTAR Spots Flare From Milky Way's Black Hole
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2012 Oct 23
NASA's newest set of X-ray eyes in the sky, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), has caught its first look at the giant black hole parked at the center of our galaxy. The observations show the typically mild-mannered black hole during the middle of a flare-up.

"We got lucky to have captured an outburst from the black hole during our observing campaign," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. "These data will help us better understand the gentle giant at the heart of our galaxy and why it sometimes flares up for a few hours and then returns to slumber."

NuSTAR, launched June 13, is the only telescope capable of producing focused images of the highest-energy X-rays. For two days in July, the telescope teamed up with other observatories to observe Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A-star and abbreviated Sgr A*), the name astronomers give to a compact radio source at the center of the Milky Way. Observations show a massive black hole lies at this location. Participating telescopes included NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which sees lower-energy X-ray light; and the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which took infrared images.

Compared to giant black holes at the centers of other galaxies, Sgr A* is relatively quiet. Active black holes tend to gobble up stars and other fuel around them. Sgr A* is thought only to nibble or not eat at all, a process that is not fully understood. When black holes consume fuel -- whether a star, a gas cloud or, as recent Chandra observations have suggested, even an asteroid -- they erupt with extra energy.

In the case of NuSTAR, its state-of-the-art telescope is picking up X-rays emitted by consumed matter being heated up to about 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius) and originating from regions where particles are boosted very close to the speed of light. Astronomers say these NuSTAR data, when combined with the simultaneous observations taken at other wavelengths, will help them better understand the physics of how black holes snack and grow in size.

"Astronomers have long speculated that the black hole's snacking should produce copious hard X-rays, but NuSTAR is the first telescope with sufficient sensitivity to actually detect them," said NuSTAR team member Chuck Hailey of Columbia University in New York City.

NuSTAR catches a black hole’s hot belch
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2012 Oct 24

Surprise! NuSTAR Spots Galaxy's Black Hole Flash
Discovery News | Amy Shira Teitel | 2012 Oct 24
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR Catches Black Holes in Galaxy Web

Post by bystander » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:30 am

NuSTAR Catches Black Holes in Galaxy Web
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2013 Jan 07
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, set its X-ray eyes on a spiral galaxy and caught the brilliant glow of two black holes lurking inside.

The new image is being released Monday along with NuSTAR's view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif.

"These new images showcase why NuSTAR is giving us an unprecedented look at the cosmos," said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington. "With NuSTAR's greater sensitivity and imaging capability, we're getting a wealth of new information on a wide array of cosmic phenomena in the high-energy X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum."

Launched last June, NuSTAR is the first orbiting telescope with the ability to focus high-energy X-ray light. It can view objects in considerably greater detail than previous missions operating at similar wavelengths. Since launch, the NuSTAR team has been fine-tuning the telescope, which includes a mast the length of a school bus connecting the mirrors and detectors.

The mission has looked at a range of extreme, high-energy objects already, including black holes near and far, and the incredibly dense cores of dead stars. In addition, NuSTAR has begun black hole searches in the inner region of the Milky Way galaxy and in distant galaxies in the universe.

Among the telescope's targets is the spiral galaxy IC342, also known as Caldwell 5, featured in one of the two new images. This galaxy lies 7 million light-years away in the constellation Camelopardalis (the Giraffe). Previous X-ray observations of the galaxy from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed the presence of two blinding black holes, called ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs).

How ULXs can shine so brilliantly is an ongoing mystery in astronomy. While these black holes are not as powerful as the supermassive black hole at the hearts of galaxies, they are more than 10 times brighter than the stellar-mass black holes peppered among the stars in our own galaxy. Astronomers think ULXs could be less common intermediate-mass black holes, with a few thousand times the mass of our sun, or smaller stellar-mass black holes in an unusually bright state. A third possibility is that these black holes don't fit neatly into either category.

"High-energy X-rays hold a key to unlocking the mystery surrounding these objects," said Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Whether they are massive black holes, or there is new physics in how they feed, the answer is going to be fascinating."

In the image, the two bright spots that appear entangled in the arms of the IC342 galaxy are the black holes. High-energy X-ray light has been translated into the color magenta, while the galaxy itself is shown in visible light.

"Before NuSTAR, high-energy X-ray pictures of this galaxy and the two black holes would be so fuzzy that everything would appear as one pixel," said Harrison.

The second image features the well-known, historical supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, located 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. The color blue indicates the highest-energy X-ray light seen by NuSTAR, while red and green signify the lower end of NuSTAR's energy range. The blue region is where the shock wave from the supernova blast is slamming into material surrounding it, accelerating particles to nearly the speed of light. As the particles speed up, they give off a type of light known as synchrotron radiation. NuSTAR will be able to determine for the first time how energetic the particles are, and address the mystery of what causes them to reach such great speeds.

"Cas A is the poster child for studying how massive stars explode and also provides us a clue to the origin of the high-energy particles, or cosmic rays, that we see here on Earth," said Brian Grefenstette of Caltech, a lead researcher on the observations. "With NuSTAR, we can study where, as well as how, particles are accelerated to such ultra-relativistic energies in the remnant left behind by the supernova explosion."

NuSTAR Spies Ravenous Black Holes
Discovery News | Irene Klotz | 2013 Jan 07

NuSTAR’s Glimpse of Cosmic Violence
Slate Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2013 Jan 08
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin

Post by bystander » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:46 pm

NuSTAR Helps Solve Riddle of Black Hole Spin
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2013 Feb 27
Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.

The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein's theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.

"This is hugely important to the field of black hole science," said Lou Kaluzienski, a NuSTAR program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The observations also are a powerful test of Einstein's theory of general relativity, which says gravity can bend space-time, the fabric that shapes our universe, and the light that travels through it.

"We can trace matter as it swirls into a black hole using X-rays emitted from regions very close to the black hole," said the coauthor of a new study, NuSTAR principal investigator Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The radiation we see is warped and distorted by the motions of particles and the black hole's incredibly strong gravity."

NuSTAR, an Explorer-class mission launched in June 2012, is designed to detect the highest-energy X-ray light in great detail. It complements telescopes that observe lower-energy X-ray light, such as XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Scientists use these and other telescopes to estimate the rates at which black holes spin.

Until now, these measurements were not certain because clouds of gas could have been obscuring the black holes and confusing the results. With help from XMM-Newton, NuSTAR was able to see a broader range of X-ray energies and penetrate deeper into the region around the black hole. The new data demonstrate that X-rays are not being warped by the clouds, but by the tremendous gravity of the black hole. This proves that spin rates of supermassive black holes can be determined conclusively.

"If I could have added one instrument to XMM-Newton, it would have been a telescope like NuSTAR," said Norbert Schartel, XMM-Newton Project Scientist at the European Space Astronomy Center in Madrid. "The high-energy X-rays provided an essential missing puzzle piece for solving this problem."

Measuring the spin of a supermassive black hole is fundamental to understanding its past history and that of its host galaxy.

"These monsters, with masses from millions to billions of times that of the sun, are formed as small seeds in the early universe and grow by swallowing stars and gas in their host galaxies, merging with other giant black holes when galaxies collide, or both," said the study's lead author, Guido Risaliti of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics.

Supermassive black holes are surrounded by pancake-like accretion disks, formed as their gravity pulls matter inward. Einstein's theory predicts the faster a black hole spins, the closer the accretion disk lies to the black hole. The closer the accretion disk is, the more gravity from the black hole will warp X-ray light streaming off the disk.

Astronomers look for these warping effects by analyzing X-ray light emitted by iron circulating in the accretion disk. In the new study, they used both XMM-Newton and NuSTAR to simultaneously observe the black hole in NGC 1365. While XMM-Newton revealed that light from the iron was being warped, NuSTAR proved that this distortion was coming from the gravity of the black hole and not gas clouds in the vicinity. NuSTAR's higher-energy X-ray data showed that the iron was so close to the black hole that its gravity must be causing the warping effects.

With the possibility of obscuring clouds ruled out, scientists can now use the distortions in the iron signature to measure the black hole's spin rate. The findings apply to several other black holes as well, removing the uncertainty in the previously measured spin rates.

NuSTAR Media Teleconference Images and Videos

Speedy black hole holds galaxy's history
ESA Space Science | XMM-Newton | 2013 Feb 27

Supermassive Black Hole Spins Super-Fast
Smithsonian Science | Center for Astrophysics | 2013 Feb 27

NuSTAR helps solve riddle of black hole spin
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | 2013 Feb 28

NuSTAR Puts New Spin On Supermassive Black Holes
Universe Today | Tammy Plotner | 2013 Feb 27

Superfast Spinning Black Hole Tearing Up Space at Nearly the Speed of Light
Slate Blogs | Bad Astronomy | Phil Plait | 2013 Feb 27

Spinning Black Hole Observed for the First Time
Discovery News | Ian O'Neill | 2013 Feb 27

A rapidly spinning supermassive black hole at the centre of NGC 1365 - G. Risaliti et al
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

NuSTAR Delivers the X-Ray Goods

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:53 pm

NuSTAR Delivers the X-Ray Goods
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2013 Aug 29

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is giving the wider astronomical community a first look at its unique X-ray images of the cosmos. The first batch of data from the black-hole hunting telescope is publicly available today, Aug. 29, via NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center, or HEASARC.

"We are pleased to present the world with NuSTAR's first look at the sky in high-energy X-rays with a true focusing telescope," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

The images, taken from July to August 2012, shortly after the spacecraft launched, comprise an assortment of extreme objects, including black holes near and far. The more distant black holes are some of the most luminous objects in the universe, radiating X-rays as they ferociously consume surrounding gas. One type of black hole in the new batch of data is a blazar, which is an active, supermassive black hole pointing a jet toward Earth. Pairs of black holes called X-ray binaries, in which one partner feeds off the other, are also in the mix, along with the remnants of stellar blasts called supernovas.

The data set only contains complete observations. Data will be released at a later date for those targets still being observed. ...

NuSTAR Archive
NASA | GSFC | HEASARC | 2013 Aug 29
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18666
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

SAO: Nu-STAR: A First Look at the High-Energy CXB

Post by bystander » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:36 pm

Nu-STAR: A First Look at the High-Energy Cosmic X-Ray Background Population
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Weekly Science Update | 2013 Aug 02
The cosmic X-ray background (CXB) was first discovered in the early 1960s, several years before the detection of the more famous cosmic microwave background (the remnant radiation dating from a few hundred thousand years after the big bang). Unlike the microwave background, which is truly diffuse in origin, the CXB is dominated by the emission from distant, high-energy point sources: active galactic nuclei, sites of intense black-hole growth at the centers of galaxies. A key goal of high-energy astrophysics has been to determine the detailed composition of the CXB in order to understand the evolution of these active nuclei.

Huge strides in revealing the composition of the CXB have been made over the past decade, with sensitive surveys undertaken especially by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton observatory. These surveys are so deep that they have resolved perhaps 90% of the CXB sources, at least at low X-ray energies where they operate. The results reveal a plethora AGNs out to distances so great that their light has been traveling toward us for about 95% of the age of the Universe. These results, however, applied only to sources detected at the lower X-ray energies, and far from the peak energy of the CXB which is four times larger.

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) space observatory represents a breakthrough in this regard. NuSTAR was successfully launched one year ago, on 2012 June 13, and is the first high energy orbiting observatory with focusing optics, and is capable of providing ten times more precise angular information and one hundred times the sensitivity.

CfA astronomers Francesca Civano and Martin Elvis, along with a large team of colleagues, used NuSTAR to probe the cosmic X-ray background. The satellite detected sources about one hundred times fainter than previous missions. Analysis shows that these objects are mostly quasars, they emit X-rays with a luminosity over ten billion times that of the Sun, and their active nuclei reside in galaxies that seem to be more massive by a factor of five than the hosts of typical nearby active nuclei. The new results, a first step in probing the high-energy X-ray universe with NuSTAR, suggest that these newly discovered objects are broadly similar to those already known but scaled up in both mass and luminosity.

Catching Black Holes on the Fly
NASA | JPL-Caltech | NuSTAR | 2013 Sep 05

The NuSTAR Extragalactic Survey: A First Sensitive Look at the High-Energy Cosmic X-ray Background Population - D. M. Alexander et al
<< Previous Science Update
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 16142
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: NuSTAR: Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array

Post by neufer » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:23 pm

http://www.universetoday.com/107926/new-findings-from-nustar-a-new-x-ray-view-of-the-hand-of-god-and-more/#more-107926 wrote:
New Findings from NuSTAR: A New X-Ray View of the “Hand of God” and More
by David Dickinson on January 10, 2014 <<One star player in this week’s findings out of the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society has been the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array Mission, also known as NuSTAR. On Thursday, researchers revealed some exciting new results and images from the mission, as well as what we can expect from NuSTAR down the road. NuSTAR was launched on June 13th, 2012 on a Pegasus XL rocket deployed from a Lockheed L-1011 “TriStar” aircraft flying near the Kwajalein Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Part of a new series of low-cost missions, NuSTAR is the first of its kind to employ a space telescope focusing on the high energy X-ray end of the spectrum centered around 5-80 KeV.

Daniel Stern, part of the NuSTAR team at JPL Caltech, revealed a new X-ray image of the now-famous supernova remnant dubbed “The Hand of God.” Discovered by the Einstein X-ray observatory in 1982, the Hand is home to pulsar PSR B1509-58 or B1509 for short, and sits about 18,000 light years away in the southern hemisphere constellation Circinus. B1509 spins about 7 times per second, and the supernova that formed the pulsar is estimated to have occurred 20,000 years ago and would’ve been visible form Earth about 2,000 years ago.

While the Chandra X-ray observatory has scrutinized the region before, NuSTAR can peer into its very heart. In fact, Stern notes that views from NuSTAR take on less of an appearance of a “Hand” and more of a “Fist”. Of course, the appearance of any nebula is a matter of perspective. Pareidolia litter the deep sky, whether it’s the Pillars of Creation to the Owl Nebula. We can’t help but being reminded of the mysterious “cosmic hand” that the Guardians of Oa of Green Lantern fame saw when they peered back at the moment of creation. Apparently, the “Hand” is also rather Simpson-esque, sporting only three “fingers!”

NuSTAR is the first, and so far only, focusing hard X-ray observatory deployed in orbit. NuSTAR employs what’s known as grazing incidence optics in a Wolter telescope configuration, and the concentric shells of the detector look like layers on an onion. NuSTAR also requires a large focal length, and employs a long boom that was deployed shortly after launch. The hard X-ray regime that NuSTAR monitors is similar to what you encounter in your dentist’s office or in a TSA body scanner. Unlike the JEM-X monitor aboard ESA’s INTERGRAL or the Swift observatory, which have a broad resolution of about half a degree to a degree, NuSTAR has an unprecedented resolution of about 18 arc seconds.

The first data release from NuSTAR was in late 2013. NuSTAR is just begging to show its stuff, however, in terms of what researchers anticipate that it’s capable of. NuSTAR will also be able to pinpoint high energy sources at the center of our galaxy. “No previous high-energy mission has had the imaging resolution of NuSTAR,” Stern told Universe Today. ”Our order-of-magnitude increase in image sharpness means that we’re able to map out that very rich region of the sky, which is populated by supernovae remnants, X-ray binaries, as well as the big black hole at the center of our Galaxy, Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star).”

Yale University researcher Francesca Civano also presented a new image from NuSTAR depicting black holes that were previously obscured from view. NuSTAR is especially suited for this, gazing into the hearts of energetic galaxies that are invisible to observatories such Chandra or XMM-Newton. The image presented covers the area of Hubble’s Cosmic Evolution Survey, known as COSMOS in the constellation Sextans. In fact, Civano notes that NuSTAR has already seen the highest number of obscured black hole candidates to date. “This is a hot topic in astronomy,” Civano said in a recent press release. “We want to understand how black holes grew and the degree to which they are obscured.” To this end, NuSTAR researchers are taking a stacked “wedding cake” approach, looking at successively larger slices of the sky from previous surveys. These include looking at the quarter degree field of the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOOD-S) for 18 days, the two degree wide COSMOS field for 36 days, and the large four degree Swift-BAT fields for 40 day periods hunting for serendipitous sources.

Interestingly, NuSTAR has also opened the window on the hard X-ray background that permeates the universe as well. This peaks in the 20-30 KeV range, and is the combination of the X-ray emissions of millions of black holes. “For several decades already, we’ve known what the sum total emission of the sky is across the X-ray regime,” Stern told Universe Today. “The shape of this cosmic X-ray background peaks strongly in the NuSTAR range. The most likely interpretation is that there are a large number of obscured black holes out there, objects that are hard to find in other energy bands. NuSTAR should find these sources.”

And NuSTAR may just represent the beginning of a new era in X-ray astronomy. ESA is moving ahead with its next generation flagship X-ray mission, known as Athena+, set to launch sometime next decade. Ideas abound for wide-field imagers and X-ray polarimeters, and one day, we may see a successor to NuSTAR dubbed the High-Energy X-ray Probe or (HEX-P) make it into space.>>
Art Neuendorffer