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) are due on November 25, 2014, with GO observations slated to commence in April 2015.

NuSTAR Frequently Asked Questions

NuSTAR Publications List Maintained at Caltech

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
  • Will the Real Monster Black Hole Please Stand Up? (09 Jan 2015)
    As described in Ptak et al. (2015, ApJ, in press), a new high-energy X-ray image from NuSTAR has pinpointed the 'true' monster in two colliding galaxies, collectively called Arp 299, that are located 44 Mpc away. Each of the galaxies has a supermassive black hole at its heart. NuSTAR has revealed that the black hole located in Arp 299-B, the western of the galaxy pair, is actively gorging on gas, while its partner Arp 299-A is either dormant or hidden under gas or dust.
  • NuSTAR Observes Sun Sizzling in High-Energy X-Rays (22 Dec 2014)
    For the first time, NuSTAR, a mission designed to observe black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of the Sun, and producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in hard X-rays. Future NuSTAR images should provide even better data as the sun winds down its solar cycle and might capture the hypothesized nanoflares that may energize the solar corona.
  • NuSTAR Guest Observer AO1 Deadline Is Near (14 Nov 2014)
    The deadline for NuSTAR proposal submission is 4:30 pm EST on November 25th .
  • 5th NuSTAR Public Data Release (23 Oct 2014)
    214 new NuSTAR data sets from the first 24 months of observations were released to the public NuSTAR archive on September 23rd. NuSTAR data are accessible via the usual HEASARC archive interfaces, i.e., Xamin and Browse, by querying the NuSTAR master table (numaster). NuSTAR data can also be accessed from the HEASARC FTP site.
  • NASA's NuSTAR Telescope Discovers Shockingly Bright Dead Star (08 Oct 2014)
    Bachetti et al. (2014, Nature, 514, 202) used NuSTAR (together with Chandra and Swift) to find a pulsating "dead" star beaming with the energy of about 10 million suns. This is the brightest pulsar ever recorded. The surprising find is helping astronomers better understand the mysterious sources of blinding X-rays, called ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs), which, until now, were all thought to be black holes.

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