The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array Mission - NuSTAR

NASA's latest high-energy astrophysics observatory, NuSTAR, is the first focusing high-energy X-ray mission, opening the hard X-ray sky above 10 keV for sensitive study for the first time. During its mission, NuSTAR will search for black holes, map supernova explosions, and study the most extreme active galaxies.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The NuSTAR Mission web site can be found here. NuSTAR data are being archived at the HEASARC.

NuSTAR has been approved to continue operations through 2018 (subject to review by the 2016 NASA Astrophysics Senior Review of Operating Missions) and to have a Guest Observer (GO) Program. GO proposals for the first announcement of opportunity (AO-1) were due on November 25, 2014, and were reviewed in February 2015. The list of accepted targets for this AO is now available. NuSTAR AO-1 GO observations commenced in April 2015 and continued through April 30, 2016. GO proposals for the second announcement of opportunity (AO-2) for observations in the period from May 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017 were due on December 11, 2015, and were reviewed in February 2016. The list of accepted targets for this AO is also now available. Phase 2 (budget) proposals are due in NSPIRES for selected AO-2 proposals by a to-be-determined date in May 2016. Further information about AO-2 is available on the NuSTAR proposal page.

NuSTAR Frequently Asked Questions

NuSTAR Publications List Maintained at Caltech

NuSTAR Publications List Maintained at the HEASARC

Introduction to NuSTAR

NuSTAR was launched at 9 am PDT, June 13, 2012 on a Pegasus XL rocket which was dropped from a Lockheed L-1011 "TriStar" aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean near the Kwajalein Atoll.

NuSTAR is the first mission to use focusing telescopes to image the sky in the high-energy X-ray (3 - 79 keV) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our view of the universe in this spectral window has been limited because previous orbiting telescopes have not employed true focusing optics, but rather have used coded apertures that have intrinsically high backgrounds and limited sensitivity.

During its two-year primary mission phase, NuSTAR has been observing selected regions of the sky in order to:

  1. Probe obscured active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity out to the peak epoch of galaxy assembly in the universe (at z <~ 2) by surveying selected regions of the sky;

  2. Study the population of hard X-ray-emitting compact objects in the Galaxy by mapping the central regions of the Milky Way;

  3. Study the non-thermal radiation in young supernova remnants (SNR), both the hard X-ray continuum and the emission from the radioactive element 44Ti;

  4. Observe blazars contemporaneously with ground-based radio, optical, and TeV telescopes, as well as with Fermi and Swift, so as to constrain the structure of AGN jets; and

  5. Observe line and continuum emission from core-collapse supernovae in the Local Group, and from nearby Type Ia events, to constrain explosion models.

Artist concept of Nustar in orbit

Latest News
  • NuSTAR Feature: A Chorus of Black Holes Sings in X-rays (03 Aug 2016)
    Supermassive black holes (SMBH) in the universe are like a raucous choir "singing" in X-rays. When black holes pull in surrounding matter, they let out powerful X-ray bursts. These "songs" of X-rays, coming from a chorus of millions of black holes, fill the entire sky - a phenomenon astronomers call the cosmic X-ray background. NuSTAR has made significant progress in resolving the high-energy X-ray background, finding that at least 35% is attributable to SMBH, according to a new paper by Harrison et al. (2016, ApJ, in press).
  • NuSTAR CALDB Update (02 Aug 2016)
    The NuSTAR CALibration DataBase was updated on August 2, 2016 (CALDB version 20160731). This updates the NuSTAR clock correction file to version 60, valid through 2016-07-31.
  • The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) and NuSTAR Data (28 Jul 2016)
    The NuSTAR spacecraft flies through regions of the Earth's radiation belts, e.g., the SAA, in parts of its orbit, resulting in an enhanced background in its detectors. The NuSTAR team has some advice about how to analyze data affected by such high backgrounds (which is particularly applicable for fainter X-ray sources) here.
  • Correction to NuSTAR CALDB Update 20160706 (28 Jul 2016)
    There was an error in the NuSTAR CALDB update version 20160706 in which the caldb.indx file was pointing to an older CALDB version (20151008). This has now been fixed, and the tar files have been updated. If you have previously downloaded NuSTAR CALDB 20160706, you should re-download and re-install this version, or use Remote Access to access version 20160706 of the NuSTAR CALDB.
  • NuSTAR CALDB Update (22 July 2016)
    The NuSTAR CALibration DataBase was updated on July 22, 2016 (CALDB version 20160706). This updates the NuSTAR clock correction file to version 59, valid through 2016-07-06.

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