Astronomy Pic for June 19th – NuSTAR X-Ray Telescope

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 June 19

NuSTAR X-Ray Telescope Launched Illustration

 Credit & Copyright: Fiona Harrison et al.CaltechNASA

 

 Explanation: What’s left after a star explodes? To help find out, NASA  launched the  Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite into Earth orbit last week. NuSTAR’s ability to focus hard  X-rays emitted from the nuclei of atoms will be used, among other things, to inspect the surroundings of  supernova remnants so as to better understand why these supernovas occurred,  what types of objects resulted, and what mechanisms make their surroundings glow so hot. NuSTAR will also give humanity   unprecedented looks at the  hot corona of our Sun, hot gasses in  clusters of galaxies, and the  supermassive black hole in the  center of our Galaxy. Pictured above is an artist’s illustration depicting how  NuSTAR works. X-rays similar to those used in your dentist’s office enter the telescope on the right and  skip off two sets of  parallel mirrors that focus them onto the detectors on the left. A long but low-weight mast separates the two, and the  whole thing is powered by solar panels on the upper left. Part of the excitement involving  NuSTAR is not only what things it is expected to see, but by  looking at the universe in a new way, what things that are completely unknown  that might be discovered. NuSTAR has a planned two year lifetime.