The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array Mission - NuSTAR

NASA's latest high-energy astrophysics observatory, NuSTAR, is the first focusing high-energy X-ray mission, opening the hard X-ray sky above 10 keV for sensitive study for the first time. During its mission, NuSTAR will search for black holes, map supernova explosions, and study the most extreme active galaxies.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by Caltech and managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The NuSTAR Mission web site can be found here. NuSTAR data are being archived at the HEASARC.

NuSTAR has been approved to continue operations through 2018 by the 2016 NASA Astrophysics Senior Review of Operating Missions and to have a Guest Observer (GO) Program. Further information about GO proposals is available on the NuSTAR proposal page.


NuSTAR Frequently Asked Questions

NuSTAR Publications List Maintained at Caltech

NuSTAR Publications List Maintained at the HEASARC


Introduction to NuSTAR

NuSTAR was launched at 9 am PDT, June 13, 2012 on a Pegasus XL rocket which was dropped from a Lockheed L-1011 "TriStar" aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean near the Kwajalein Atoll.

NuSTAR is the first mission to use focusing telescopes to image the sky in the high-energy X-ray (3 - 79 keV) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our view of the universe in this spectral window has been limited because previous orbiting telescopes have not employed true focusing optics, but rather have used coded apertures that have intrinsically high backgrounds and limited sensitivity.

During its two-year primary mission phase, NuSTAR has been observing selected regions of the sky in order to:

  1. Probe obscured active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity out to the peak epoch of galaxy assembly in the universe (at z <~ 2) by surveying selected regions of the sky;

  2. Study the population of hard X-ray-emitting compact objects in the Galaxy by mapping the central regions of the Milky Way;

  3. Study the non-thermal radiation in young supernova remnants (SNR), both the hard X-ray continuum and the emission from the radioactive element 44Ti;

  4. Observe blazars contemporaneously with ground-based radio, optical, and TeV telescopes, as well as with Fermi and Swift, so as to constrain the structure of AGN jets; and

  5. Observe line and continuum emission from core-collapse supernovae in the Local Group, and from nearby Type Ia events, to constrain explosion models.

Artist concept of Nustar in orbit

Latest News
  • NuSTAR Probes Puzzling Galaxy Merger (28 Mar 2017)
    A supermassive black hole (SMBH) inside a tiny galaxy is challenging scientists' ideas about what happens when two galaxies merge. Was 49 is the name of a system consisting of a large disk galaxy, referred to as Was 49a, merging with a much smaller "dwarf" galaxy called Was 49b. The dwarf galaxy rotates within the larger galaxy's disk, about 26,000 light years from its center. Using NuSTAR, Secrest et al. (2017, ApJ, 836, 183), have discovered that the dwarf galaxy is so luminous in high-energy X-ray, it must host an SMBH much larger and more powerful than expected for such a lightweight.
  • Andromeda's Bright Hard X-Ray Mystery Source Identified by NuSTAR (24 Mar 2017)
    The Milky Way's close neighbor galaxy Andromeda (M 31), features a dominant source of high-energy X-ray emission, but its identity has been mysterious until now. As reported in a new study by Yukita et al. (2017, ApJ, in press), NASA's NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission has pinpointed the object responsible for this high-energy radiation to be Swift J0042.6+4112, a possible pulsar, the dense remnant of a dead star that is highly magnetized and spinning.
  • NuSTAR Helps Find Universe's Brightest Pulsar (01 Mar 2017)
    The brightest pulsar ever found (NGC 5907 ULX, detected by both XMM-Newton and NuSTAR), has just been reported in the journal Science by Israel et al. (2017). In one second, NGC 5907 ULX emits the same amount of energy (1041 erg) as our sun does in three-and-a-half years. The authors note that standard accretion models fail to explain this high luminosity, but models with strong multipolar magnetic fields can.
  • NuSTAR CALDB Update (24 Feb 2017)
    The NuSTAR CALibration DataBase was updated on February 24, 2017 (CALDB version 20170222). This updates the NuSTAR clock correction file to version 69, valid through 2017-02-22.
  • NuSTAR, Swift and XMM-Newton Help Solve the "Rapid Burster" Mystery (02 Feb 2017)
    Simultaneous Swift, NuSTAR and XMM-Newton observations of MXB 1730-335, a curious neutron star in a binary system known as the 'Rapid Burster', may have solved a 40-year-old mystery surrounding its puzzling X-ray bursts, according to van den Eijnden et al.(2016, MNRAS, 466, L98)). The neutron star magnetic field creates a gap in the accretion disk around the star, largely preventing it from feeding on matter from its companion. Gas builds up there until, under certain conditions, it hits the neutron star all at once, producing intense flashes of X-rays.

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