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 will continue 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 are due on December 11, 2015. 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
  • Swift and NuSTAR Observe a Major Flare of the Supermassive Black Hole in Markarian 335 (10 Nov 2015)
    The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, thanks to observations by NASA's Swift and NuSTAR observatories which caught the supermassive black hole (SMBH) in Mrk 335 in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light. These observations (discussed in Wilkins et al. 2015, MNRAS, 454, 4440) help address an ongoing puzzle: How do SMBHs flare?
  • 7th NuSTAR Baseline Mission Public Data Release (17 Sep 2015)
    334 new NuSTAR data sets (total exposure time of ~10 Msec) from observations made as part of the baseline mission phase from 2012 August 1st to 2015 April 30th were released to the public NuSTAR archive on September 17th. These NuSTAR data are accessible via the usual HEASARC archive interfaces, i.e., Xamin and Browse, by querying the NuSTAR master catalog, 'numaster'. NuSTAR data can also be accessed from the HEASARC FTP site.
  • NuSTAR Guest Observer (GO) Cycle 2 Solicitation Released (15 Sep 2015)
    Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science for 2015 (ROSES-15) Amendment 26 (released on Sep 10, 2015) contains the revised text and new due date for Appendix D.10 soliciting proposals to the NuSTAR GO Cycle 2 opportunity. The new due date for proposal submission is Dec 11, 2015. Proposals should be submitted via the HEASARC's ARK Remote Proposal System (RPS). For more information about this AO, please visit the NuSTAR Proposal page
  • Searing Sun As Seen in the Hard and Soft X-ray and UV Bands (08 Jul 2015)
    The surface of the Sun is lit up in a bouquet of colors in a new composite image containing data from NuSTAR, the Hinode X-Ray Telescope (XRT) and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The high-energy X-rays seen by NuSTAR are shown in blue in this image, green represents lower-energy X-rays seen by the Hinode XRT, and yellow and red the UV light viewed by the SDO instruments. Iain Hannah of the University of Glasgow presented this image on July 8, at the UK RAS's National Astronomy Meeting in Wales.
  • 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.

+RSS [What is this?]

Recent News

For those interested in general astronomy/astrophysics information please go to our Education and Public Outreach site.