|Jun 30, 2012, 07:51 AM||#1|
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Black Hole-Hunting Telescope Takes First X-ray Photo
The NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) observatory was launched 13 June, with the main objective of documenting high-energy events in deep space, such as black holes. It is able to produce images with 100 times more sensitivity and 10 times more resolution than any other X-ray telescope, including its predecessors Chandra and XMM-Newton.
The first images (below) show the Cygnus X-1 black hole that is gradually draining gas from a nearby giant star 6,000 light years from Earth.
“It’s like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing aspects of the world around us clearly for the first time,” Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR investigator at the California Institute of Technology, explained.
The inset image in the top right of the picture is of an area in space about twice the diameter of the moon and was taken by the Integral telescope. Beneath it is NuSTAR’s photo of the center of this image — it demonstrates NuSTAR’s ability to zoom in on a specific spot.
Over the course of its two-year mission black holes will be a particular focus — X-rays from black holes are strong enough to break through the pockets of gas and dust that have made it difficult to get detailed images in the past.
It will document the behavior of these black holes — including how fast they spin — and of their surroundings, which can reach extreme temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees. The ultimate goal is to generate a map of these black holes to see how they are distributed in space, but also to investigate how heavy elements are forged in star explosions and what sustains galaxies that experience extreme activity. Stars that exploded as supernova will be studied as well as, according to Nasa, “structures where galaxies cluster together like mega-cities”.
The aftermath of a supernova, G21.5-0.9, is next on the list, followed by 3C273, a high-energy quasar two billion light years from Earth. These two points, along with the initial photo, will be used to configure the optics and sensors on the telescope to the ideal settings and position.
NuSTAR is part of NASA’s Small Explorers program, designed to produce relatively low-cost operations. The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (Gems), was another Small Explorers initiative which due to launch in July, 2014, but was canceled in early June because of rising costs. Gems was going to use an X-ray telescope to explore the affect a spinning black hole’s gravitational pull has on time and matter.
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|Jul 2, 2012, 04:31 PM||#2|
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Awesome! Does it come in a portable version?
Why dazzle 'em with brilliance when you can baffle 'em with bullshit.
Alterius non sit, qui potest esse sui!
Und setzet ihr nicht das leben ein, Nie wird euch das leben gewonnen sein!
If knowledge is power, then ignorance is bliss!
If god didn't want them sheared, he wouldn't have made them sheep!
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