Media Relations Specialist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
News Release • February 20, 2019
In the nearby Whirlpool galaxy and its companion galaxy, M51b, two supermassive black holes heat up and devour surrounding material. These two monsters should be the most luminous X-ray sources in sight, but a new study using observations from NASA's NuSTAR mission shows that a much smaller object is competing with the two behemoths.
News Release • January 10, 2019
A brief and unusual flash spotted in the night sky on June 16, 2018, puzzled astronomers and astrophysicists across the globe. The event - called AT2018cow and nicknamed "the Cow" after the coincidental final letters in its official name - is unlike any celestial outburst ever seen before, prompting multiple theories about its source.
Feature Story • July 26, 2018
On Thursday, July 26th, the Hudson River Museum was at Cross County Shopping Center, putting on a series of science projects as part of SummerFest on the Cross County Green. During the “Summer Skies” event, visitors participated in demonstrations and projects and created items to take home. They explored gravity and light, and made of a model of the NuSTAR space telescope.
News Release • July 3, 2018
A new study using data from NASA's NuSTAR space telescope suggests that Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth, is accelerating particles to high energies - some of which may reach our planet as cosmic rays.
Feature Story • December 7, 2017
Black holes are famous for their muscle: an intense gravitational pull known to gobble up entire stars and launch streams of matter into space at almost the speed of light. It turns out the reality may not live up to the hype. University of Florida scientists have discovered these tears in the fabric of the universe have significantly weaker magnetic fields than previously thought.
Announcement • November 20, 2017
NASA has announced the fourth opportunity for scientists around the world to propose for observations using the NuSTAR X-ray space telescope. This Guest Observer (GO) Program is part of an extended mission plan approved by NASA that offers observing time for basic research investigations selected in a competitive process. Proposals for observations to be made within the four cycle of the NuSTAR GO program are due on Jan 19, 2018. Click through for more information.
News Release • October 30, 2017
Black holes are famous for being ravenous eaters, but they do not eat everything that falls toward them. A small portion of material gets shot back out in powerful jets of hot gas, called plasma, that can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Along the way, this plasma somehow gets energized enough to strongly radiate light, forming two bright columns along the black hole's axis of rotation. Scientists have long debated where and how this happens in the jet.
Feature Story • August 17, 2017
On August 21, for about two minutes across a swath of North America, Earth's moon will pass in front of and completely block out the sun, causing a total solar eclipse. Countless people are expected to witness this rare phenomenon, the first total solar eclipse in North America in 38 years. Just this week, scientists at Caltech and JPL decided that a small space telescope will be watching with them.
News Release • May 9, 2017
Black holes get a bad rap in popular culture for swallowing everything in their environments. In reality, stars, gas and dust can orbit black holes for long periods of time, until a major disruption pushes the material in.
News Release • March 27, 2017
A supermassive black hole inside a tiny galaxy is challenging scientists' ideas about what happens when two galaxies become one. Thanks to NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, scientists have discovered that the dwarf galaxy is so luminous in high-energy X-rays, it must host a supermassive black hole much larger and more powerful than expected.
News Release • March 23, 2017
The Milky Way's close neighbor, Andromeda, features a dominant source of high-energy X-ray emission, but its identity was mysterious until now. As reported in a new study, NASA's NuSTAR mission has pinpointed an object responsible for this high-energy radiation.
News Release • March 1, 2017
For the first time, scientists have measured rapidly varying temperatures in hot gas emanating from around a black hole. These ultrafast "winds" are created by disks of matter surrounding black holes.
News Release • February 28, 2017
There's a new record holder for brightest pulsar ever found -- and astronomers are still trying to figure out how it can shine so brightly. It's now part of a small group of mysterious bright pulsars that are challenging astronomers to rethink how pulsars accumulate, or accrete, material.
News Release • January 24, 2017
"We're made of star stuff," astronomer Carl Sagan famously said. Nuclear reactions that happened in ancient stars generated much of the material that makes up our bodies, our planet and our solar system. When stars explode in violent deaths called supernovae, those newly formed elements escape and spread out in the universe.
News Release • January 7, 2017
Monster black holes sometimes lurk behind gas and dust, hiding from the gaze of most telescopes. But they give themselves away when material they feed on emits high-energy X-rays that NASA's NuSTAR mission can detect. That's how NuSTAR recently identified two gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes, located at the centers of nearby galaxies.
Feature Story • September 8, 2016
Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other X-ray observatories, astronomers have found evidence for what is likely one of the most extreme pulsars, or rotating neutron stars, ever detected. The source exhibits properties of a highly magnetized neutron star, or magnetar, yet its deduced spin period is thousands of times longer than any pulsar ever observed.
Feature Story • August 8, 2016
Fiona Harrison, principal investigator of NASA's NuSTAR mission, has been selected to receive the 2016 Massey Award, given by the Committee on Space Research. The Massey Award honors "outstanding contributions to the development of space research in which a leadership role is of particular importance" and honors the memory of Sir Harrie Massey.
Feature Story • July 28, 2016
Supermassive black holes in the universe are like a raucous choir singing in the language of X-rays. When black holes pull in surrounding matter, they let out powerful X-ray bursts. This song of X-rays, coming from a chorus of millions of black holes, fills the entire sky -- a phenomenon astronomers call the cosmic X-ray background.
Feature Story • July 12, 2016
The European Space Agency's orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a "gravitational vortex" around a black hole. The discovery, aided by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years, and will allow them to map the behavior of matter very close to black holes. It could also open the door to future investigations of Albert Einstein's general relativity.
Feature Story • March 16, 2016
Using observations made by X-ray space observatories NuSTAR and Swift/XRT, a team of scientists led by Ashley King (Einstein Fellow at Stanford University) has managed to measure the location of the inner edge of the disk in Aquila X-1, a neutron-star X-ray binary located 17,000 light-years away.
Feature Story • January 22, 2016
Dr. Lynn R. Cominsky, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, joined the faculty at Sonoma State University in 1986 and became chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department in 2004. She also founded Sonoma State’s Education and Public Outreach group in 1999. Previously, she worked with the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory and NASA’s Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite Project. Dr. Cominsky earned her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her BA from Brandeis University.