MessageToEagle.com - Only about a size of a refrigerator but it's very powerful. Now, it's starting its job.
NuSTAR (The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) is the first orbiting satellite to produce sharp images of high-energy X-rays
produced by explosive events and extreme objects such as black holes and neutron stars.
NASA is scheduled to launch an orbiting X-ray satellite on Wednesday, June 13, that will open a new
window on the universe, allowing scientists to probe the roiling edges of black holes, the turbulent outflow from exploding stars,
and the smallest, most frequent flares on the sun.
“We believe most, if not, all galaxies have a massive black hole at their center, but a lot of these are hidden from the view
of optical and normal X-ray telescopes by gas and dust,” said Steve Boggs, University of California, Berkeley, professor of
physics and a co-investigator for the NuSTAR mission.
“This thwarts our ability to understand the nature of a majority of the black holes that are feeding from their host galaxy.
By using high-energy X-rays, the properties of these black holes will be revealed.”
NuSTAR’s instruments were designed and built by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), UC Berkeley
and other institutions, and will be operated by scientists at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.
The instruments can detect X-rays with energies up to 10 times those detectable by NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory,
and do something no X-ray telescope currently does: focus these high-energy X-rays to form an image.
Artist's concept showing NASA's NuSTAR mission orbiting Earth. NuSTAR will hunt for hidden black
holes and other exotic cosmic objects. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
“NuSTAR will create images 10 times crisper and 100 times more sensitive than any other telescopes observing in this
region,” said Fiona Harrison, principal investigator for the mission and a professor of physics and astronomy at the
California Institute of Technology.
“This will enable NuSTAR to study some of the hottest, densest, most energetic phenomena in the universe.”
NuSTAR, about the size of a refrigerator, is now loaded aboard a Pegasus XL rocket that is strapped beneath an L-1011
“Stargazer” carrier aircraft on Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. At about 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT)
on June 13, at a height of 39,000 feet, the plane will drop the rocket, which will ignite its engines to carry NuSTAR into
an equatorial orbit about 375 miles above Earth.
Artist's Concept of NuSTAR. NuSTAR has a 10-m (30') mast that deploys after launch to separate the optics modules
(right) from the detectors in the focal plane (left). The spacecraft, which controls NuSTAR's pointings, and the
solar panels are with the focal plane. NuSTAR has two identical optics modules in order to increase sensitivity.
The background is an image of the Galactic center obtained with the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
While visible light is easily focused by mirrors, X-rays are not: they penetrate mirrors except at very glancing angles.
NuSTAR scientists developed nested shells of 133 mirrors that are almost, but not quite, parallel to the incoming X-rays.
The X-rays skip off the mirrors and come to a focus on detectors about 33 feet away.
“This new type of X-ray telescope enables some truly exciting science,” said UC Berkeley’s Bill Craig, instrument manager
for NuSTAR. “It took a large international team many years to perfect this technology, and it is great to finally get an
instrument of this type in orbit.”
Because the satellite had to be compact for launch, it incorporates an extendable mast that is collapsed during launch but,
after reaching orbit and following system checkout, will deploy in 56 locking stages to a length of 10 meters, providing a
precise focal separation between the mirrors and the detectors.
NuSTAR has two nested sets of these mirrors to improve detection at the full range of high-energy X-rays. The mast will
unfurl about seven days after launch; science operations will begin about 23 days later.
Caltech’s Fiona Harrison on how NuSTAR will explore explosive events in space. Embedded video from NASA Jet
Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology
Aside from surveying massive black holes in the universe, NuSTAR also will focus on the remains of supernovas in the Milky Way
Galaxy that exploded within the last several hundred years. By analyzing the high-energy X-rays emitted by radioactive nuclei
in the expanding debris, scientists hope to reconstruct the reactions that took place in the exploding star.
“The type and number of nuclei we see today are fingerprints of what happened deep in the core of the explosion, and they
allow us to go back and deduce the underlying explosion physics that we don’t have access to in labs on Earth,” Boggs said.
NuSTAR’s unique ability to focus high energy X-rays will also allow solar physicists to study explosive events on the sun, such as
coronal mass ejections and micro- and nanoflares that are believed to pepper the sun’s surface and heat its atmosphere.
"The Most Profound Mystery In All Of Science" -
Little is known about this force and its its repulsive gravity, which is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
The riddles of dark matter and cosmic inflation, along with dark energy, these are the three pillars of modern cosmological theory,"
and none of them can be explained with physics that we know," Michael Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics says.
Last Breaths Of Dying Star Captured
Last breaths of dying sun-like star have been captured by scientists using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
The object observed by SOFIA, planetary nebula Minkowski 2-9, or M2-9 for short, is seen in this three-color composite image.
The SOFIA observations were made at the mid-infrared wavelengths of 20, 24, and 37 microns.
The Moon Is Not Earth's Only Natural Satellite
The Earth constantly captures small objects from (to) the NEO population and scientists construct a steady-state model of the Earth's temporary satellites.
According to their studies, at any given time there is at least one one-meter-diameter object orbiting the Earth and the average satellite makes
about 3 revolutions around the Earth in 9 months.
Alien Species Living In The Inner Milky Way Could Be In Danger
Few people doubt there is intelligent alien life in the Milky Way galaxy, but where can we expect to find it?
Astronomers think that while the inner sector of the MIlky Way Galaxy may be the most likely to support habitable worlds.
Unfortunately some of these places are also most dangerous to all life-forms.
Black Holes With No 'Table Manners' Eat Two Courses At Once!
It is still unknown how the supermassive black holes (SMBH) in galaxy centres accrete gas and grow.
Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) and Monash University in Australia have investigated how some black holes got so big so fast that they are billions of times heavier than the sun.
Mercury Surprises Scientists
On March 17, MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) completed its one-year primary mission, orbiting Mercury, capturing nearly 100,000 images, and recording data
that reveals new information about the planet's core, topography, and the mysterious radar bright material in the permanently shadowed areas near the poles.
Living Earth Simulator - Supercomputer Predicting The Future
In Douglas Adams book the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy we encounter a machine called Deep Thought. It is the most powerful computer ever built. Deep Thought is capable of answering questions
concerning life, the Universe, and simply everything. Now scientists are planning to create a similar machine. It is called the Living Earth Simulator (LES).
Though the universe is filled with billions upon billions of stars, the discovery of a single variable star in 1923 altered the
course of modern astronomy. And, at least one famous astronomer of the time lamented that the discovery had shattered his world view.