As Elmer Fudd can appreciate, hunting for black holes, like rabbits, is a difficult task.
However, NASA’s black-hole-hunter spacecraft, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has already “bagged” its first 10 supermassive black holes. This, of course, is far more than Elmer ever could bag of rabbits.
NuSTAR with its massive mast to achieve a 10-meter focal length is longer than a school bus.
It is also the first telescope capable of making images from the X-rays it detects bringing a new perspective to previously observed sights, such as the Sculptor galaxy above.
What may be even more interesting is the way that NuSTAR was placed in orbit. Another commercial contractor, Orbital Sciences Corporation, used their Pegasus-XL carrier rocket dropped from an aircraft flying from the Bucholz Army Airfield in Kwajalein Atoll to put the craft in orbit.
Luckily for us, the new massive black-holes NuSTAR has found are in the center of distant galaxies between 0.3 and 11.4 billion light-years from Earth. So no close encounters with a wandering black hole is in our future…yet…as far as we know…
During its two-year primary mission, NuSTAR will map selected regions of the sky in order to:
- Take a census of collapsed stars and black holes of different sizes by surveying regions surrounding the center of own Milky Way Galaxy and performing deep observations of the extragalactic sky;
- Map recently-synthesized material in young supernova remnants to understand how stars explode and how elements are created; and
- Understand what powers relativistic jets of particles from the most extreme active galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +