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NuSTAR Celebrates 10 Years in Space

NASA’s NuSTAR program 10 year brand

Principal Investigator (PI) and Scientific Advisory Board member at NASA’s NuSTAR program, Fiona Harrison, helped celebrate 10-years in space with an exciting video detailing the program’s accomplishments over the years. The flagship mission has made numerous discoveries of extreme cosmic objects including black holes, supernova remnants, pulsars, and the Sun to name a few.

In order to capture these images, NuSTAR utilized high-energy x-rays, which is the same energy that a dentist and doctor use to penetrate through your skin. This groundbreaking approach has allowed scientists the ability to capture black holes, which was impossible before given that they do not live in isolation, but rather live in regions of dust and gas in many galaxies. NuSTAR has allowed PIs like Fiona to learn fascinating things about how fast black holes are spinning due to the volume of x-ray light emitted, which causes it to bend and be distorted by general relativistic effects. This process has allowed scientists to look beyond black holes.

Having harnessed this technology over the years, NuSTAR began looking at galaxies through the research of one of their postdocs, who discovered that this ultra-luminous x-ray source was pulsing off and on. This meant that it could not be a black hole, but rather it had to be something called a neutron star. Through additional neutron star discoveries over the years, NuSTAR is now focused on sharing its findings with a worldwide community. Their hope is that this community grows, and that the technology gets used for more diverse types of science.