On June 13, NASA's new orbiting telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), will launch into space so we can have a closer look at mysterious black holes and dazzling supernova explosions. The telescope will take off aboard a rocket from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
NuSTAR has the capacity to detect high-energy X-rays and is the very first telescope to be able to do so. According to Caltech Pasadena's principal investigator, Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR can take "images that are 10 times crisper and 100 times more sensitive" than any other X-ray telescope in existence.
The telescope will be used primarily to study how black holes form and grow, but NASA scientists also want to use it to catch a star within the Milky Way in the act of exploding — a phenomenon known as a supernova. It's been roughly a century since the last known supernova in our galaxy, but it's not completely impossible for one to happen within our lifetime — in galaxies like ours, one star goes off every 30 years.
Closer to home, NuSTAR will be used to look at the sun so we can get a better understanding of its glowing atmosphere called the corona. Clearly, scientists aim to make good use of the telescope while it's in orbit, so we can expect a lot of varied, high-res images of space in the coming years.
[Image credit: NuSTAR/Caltech]
[via LA Times]
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