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
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)
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
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
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:
- 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;
- Study the population of hard X-ray-emitting compact objects in the Galaxy
by mapping the central regions of the Milky Way;
- Study the non-thermal radiation in young supernova remnants (SNR), both
the hard X-ray continuum and the emission from the radioactive element
- 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
- Observe line and continuum emission from core-collapse supernovae in the
Local Group, and from nearby Type Ia events, to constrain explosion models.
- 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)
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.,
by querying the NuSTAR master table (numaster). NuSTAR data can also be
accessed from the HEASARC FTP site.
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