Media Relations Specialist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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.
Feature Story • January 16, 2016
The 2015 Rossi Prize has been awarded to Fiona Harrison, the Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics at Caltech, for her "groundbreaking work on supernova remnants, neutron stars, and black holes enabled by NuSTAR." The award is the top prize in high-energy astrophysics.
Feature Story • January 5, 2016
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured the best high-energy X-ray view yet of a portion of our nearest large, neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. The space mission has observed 40 "X-ray binaries" -- intense sources of X-rays comprised of a black hole or neutron star that feeds off a stellar companion.
Feature Story • December 17, 2015
The most massive black holes in the universe are often encircled by thick, doughnut-shaped disks of gas and dust. This deep-space doughnut material ultimately feeds and nourishes the growing black holes tucked inside.
Feature Story • October 26, 2015
The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, with new observations from NASA's Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The two space telescopes caught a supermassive black hole in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light, helping astronomers address an ongoing puzzle: How do supermassive black holes flare?
Blog • August 3, 2015
When I stop and think about it, it never ceases to amaze me that radio waves, infrared light, which we experience as heat, x-rays and gamma-rays are all the same fundamental physical phenomenon – light, or electromagnetic radiation. The thing that distinguishes these different kinds of light is the wavelength.
Feature Story • July 6, 2015
Some of the "biggest and baddest" black holes around are buried under thick blankets of gas and dust. These monsters in the middle of galaxies are actively devouring material, but their hidden nature makes observing them a challenge. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) recently caught a glimpse of five of these secluded beasts.
News Release • May 7, 2015
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has found evidence that a massive star exploded in a lopsided fashion, sending ejected material flying in one direction and the core of the star in the other.
News Release • April 30, 2015
The sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit -- but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the sun: What heats the atmosphere to such extreme temperatures? Normally when you move away from a hot source the environment gets cooler, but some mechanism is clearly at work in the solar atmosphere, the corona, to bring the temperatures up so high.
News Release • April 29, 2015
Peering into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array has spotted a mysterious glow of high-energy X-rays that, according to scientists, could be the "howls" of dead stars as they feed on stellar companions.
News Release • February 19, 2015
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array and ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions -- a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.