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.


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 Stares Deep into Hidden Lairs of Black Holes (06 Jul 2015)
    Lansbury et al. (2015, ApJ, in press) have used NuSTAR and its hard X-ray capability to observe nine galaxies where supermassive black holes (SMBHs) were thought to be extremely active but largely obscured, at least in the soft X-ray band. Five of these candidates were found to contain hidden SMBHs, feasting on surrounding material. This study supports the theory that potentially millions of SMBHs exist in the universe hidden from view at most wavelengths.
  • Star Explosion is Lopsided, Finds NASA's NuSTAR (08 May 2015)
    The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array spacecraft has found evidence that the massive star which created supernova SN 1987A exploded in a lopsided fashion, sending ejected material flying in one direction and the core of the star in the other: the 44 Ti gamma-ray emission lines produced in the innermost ejecta are narrow and redshifted by 700 km/s, according to Boggs et al. (2015, Science, 348, 670).
  • NuSTAR Captures Possible 'Screams' from Zombie Stars (29 Apr 2015)
    Peering into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, NuSTAR has spotted a mysterious glow of hard X-rays that, according to Perez et al. (2015, Nature, 520, 646), could be the "howls" of dead stars as they feed on stellar companions. This hard X-ray emission, sharply peaked on the Galactic Center, "could indicate a significantly more massive population of accreting white dwarfs, large populations of LMXBs or MSPs, or particle outflows interacting with the surrounding radiation field, dense molecular material or magnetic fields."
  • 6th NuSTAR Public Data Release (01 Apr 2015)
    679 new NuSTAR data sets from the first 24 months of observations were released to the public NuSTAR archive on March 31st. 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.
  • NuSTAR Cycle 1 Results (03 Mar 2015)
    The list of NuSTAR targets accepted by the Cycle 1 peer review is now available, Cycle 1 observations will start to be routinely performed on April 1, 2015. Written evaluations will be sent to all NuSTAR Cycle 1 PIs in the next few weeks. As specified in the AO, U.S. PIs of proposals with category A or B targets will be invited to submit phase-2 funding proposals. Note that 0.5 Ms of NuSTAR observing time is also available through the Chandra Cycle 17 CfP, due March 17.

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