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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) distinquishes high energy X-Rays of Black Holes

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Supermassive black holes in the universe are like a raucous choir singing in the language of X-rays. When black holes pull in surrounding matter, they let out powerful X-ray bursts. This song of X-rays, coming from a chorus of millions of black holes, fills the entire sky — a phenomenon astronomers call the cosmic X-ray background.

NASA’s Chandra mission has managed to pinpoint many of the so-called active black holes contributing to this X-ray background, but the ones that let out high-energy X-rays — those with the highest-pitched “voices” — have remained elusive.

The blue dots in this field of galaxies, known as the COSMOS field, show galaxies that contain supermassive black holes emitting high-energy X-rays. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The blue dots in this field of galaxies, known as the COSMOS field, show galaxies that contain supermassive black holes emitting high-energy X-rays. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) observes Andromeda Galaxy in X-Ray Vision

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured the best high-energy X-ray view yet of a portion of our nearest large, neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. The space mission has observed 40 “X-ray binaries” — intense sources of X-rays comprised of a black hole or neutron star that feeds off a stellar companion.

The results will ultimately help researchers better understand the role of X-ray binaries in the evolution of our universe. According to astronomers, these energetic objects may play a critical role in heating the intergalactic bath of gas in which the very first galaxies formed.

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscope Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has imaged a swath of the Andromeda galaxy -- the nearest large galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscope Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has imaged a swath of the Andromeda galaxy — the nearest large galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array and Swift telescopes observe Black Hole eruption of X-Ray Light

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, with new observations from NASA’s Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The two space telescopes caught a supermassive black hole in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light, helping astronomers address an ongoing puzzle: How do supermassive black holes flare?

The results suggest that supermassive black holes send out beams of X-rays when their surrounding coronas — sources of extremely energetic particles — shoot, or launch, away from the black holes.

This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) looks deeply into Black Holes

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Some of the “biggest and baddest” black holes around are buried under thick blankets of gas and dust. These monsters in the middle of galaxies are actively devouring material, but their hidden nature makes observing them a challenge.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) recently caught a glimpse of five of these secluded beasts. While hidden from view from most other telescopes, NuSTAR can spot them by detecting the highest-energy X-rays, which can penetrate through the enshrouding gas and dust.

A montage of images showing an artist's concept of NuSTAR (top); a color image of one of the galaxies targeted by NuSTAR (lower left); and artist's concept of a hidden black hole. (Top: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Lower-left: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA. Bottom-right: NASA/ESA)

A montage of images showing an artist’s concept of NuSTAR (top); a color image of one of the galaxies targeted by NuSTAR (lower left); and artist’s concept of a hidden black hole. (Top: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Lower-left: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA. Bottom-right: NASA/ESA)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) discovers lopsided Star Explosion

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has found evidence that a massive star exploded in a lopsided fashion, sending ejected material flying in one direction and the core of the star in the other.

The findings offer the best proof yet that star explosions of this type, called Type II or core-collapse supernovae, are inherently asymmetrical, a phenomenon that had been difficult to prove before now.

The still unraveling remains of supernova 1987A are shown here in this image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The bright ring consists of material ejected from the dying star before it detonated. The ring is being lit up by the explosion's shock wave. (ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The still unraveling remains of supernova 1987A are shown here in this image taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The bright ring consists of material ejected from the dying star before it detonated. The ring is being lit up by the explosion’s shock wave. (ESA/Hubble & NASA)

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NASA reports Space Telescopes reveal fierce winds coming from Black Hole

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions — a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.

This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these ultra-fast winds and prove they are powerful enough to inhibit the host galaxy’s ability to make new stars.

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward, as illustrated in this artist's conception. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast radiation and ultra-fast winds outward, as illustrated in this artist’s conception. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA takes a look back at 2014

 

Written by David Weaver
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.

“We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond.”

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) takes High-Energy X-Ray of our Sun

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.

X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) discovers source of Intense Gamma Rays

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Our Milky Way galaxy is littered with the still-sizzling remains of exploded stars.

When the most massive stars explode as supernovas, they don’t fade into the night, but sometimes glow ferociously with high-energy gamma rays. What powers these energetic stellar remains?

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is helping to untangle the mystery. The observatory’s high-energy X-ray eyes were able to peer into a particular site of powerful gamma rays and confirm the source: A spinning, dead star called a pulsar.

The blue dot in this image marks the spot of an energetic pulsar -- the magnetic, spinning core of star that blew up in a supernova explosion. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO)

The blue dot in this image marks the spot of an energetic pulsar — the magnetic, spinning core of star that blew up in a supernova explosion. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) observes Black Hole’s center lit up by nearby Corona

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured an extreme and rare event in the regions immediately surrounding a supermassive black hole. A compact source of X-rays that sits near the black hole, called the corona, has moved closer to the black hole over a period of just days.

“The corona recently collapsed in toward the black hole, with the result that the black hole’s intense gravity pulled all the light down onto its surrounding disk, where material is spiraling inward,” said Michael Parker of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, United Kingdom, lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The regions around supermassive black holes shine brightly in X-rays. Some of this radiation comes from a surrounding disk, and most comes from the corona, pictured here in this artist's concept as the white light at the base of a jet. This is one possible configuration for a corona -- its actual shape is unclear. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The regions around supermassive black holes shine brightly in X-rays. Some of this radiation comes from a surrounding disk, and most comes from the corona, pictured here in this artist’s concept as the white light at the base of a jet. This is one possible configuration for a corona — its actual shape is unclear. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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