Dead Star, Black Holes Highlighted In Dazzling NASA NuSTAR Imagery
January 10, 2014

Dead Star, Black Holes Highlighted In Dazzling NASA NuSTAR Imagery

Gerard LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

A pair of dazzling images from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) highlights the observatory's impressive imaging capabilities for objects both near and far.

The first image (featured above) is of the energized remains of a dead star, labeled the “Hand of God” for its formation resembling that of a hand. the second image (see below) is of distant black holes surrounded by a cloud of dust.

NuSTAR’s mission is to explore the high energy X-ray of the universe and was launched on June 13, 2012. It has observed glorious displays of black holes, dead and exploding stars, as well as other matter in our universe.

Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of the mission at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., said, “NuSTAR's unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light.”

The “Hand of God” image is a nebula positioned 17,000 light years away. Located in the nebula is B1509, a dead star known as a pulsar which is the remnants of a star’s core that exploded in a supernova. B1509 has a diameter of only 12 miles, but it is spinning not quite seven times per second, unleashing particles that blend together with magnetic fields creating a magnificent glowing display.

The other image is of active black holes estimated to be three to ten billion light-years away. The image acquired by NuSTAR shows multiple dots, each one being a voracious black hole feeding off surrounding material. Many of these black holes have been identified with other telescopes, but some are so consumed with gas and dust they were unable to be observed. But with the use of NuSTAR’s high-energy X-ray, astronomers hope to present demographics on the numbers, types and distances of black holes in our universe.


Image Below: A range of supermassive black holes lights up this new image from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. All of the dots are active black holes tucked inside the hearts of galaxies, with colors representing different energies of X-ray light. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Yale University