What's up August 8

Its been a long time since the last blog entry. This is largely because the mission moved from 'transformative' events like mast deployment to 'the devil is in the details'.   

Currently the NuSTAR team is occupied with understanding how sensitive the telescope will be accross the spectrum of high energy X-rays, and also how crisp the images will be.   It is clear we built really nice optics and detectors, and our current challenge is how do we accurately remove motion of the large 10-m structure and not blur the images.   The ability is there but there is some software development to do.  If you want an analogy - suppose you snapped a picture with your cell phone camera, but your hand was unsteady so you get a blurred image.   But, if you had the camera in 'video mode' you could capture many crisp frames that show the motion, then shift and add them to make one clear picture.   This is what NuSTAR is doing - how do we 'shift and add'? We measure the instantaneous position of the optics relative to the detectors 16 times/section and we correct each X-ray we detect based on these measurements.

One exciting event from the last month is that Chandra, XMM, Integral, Swift and Suzaku and Fermi telescopes all looked at a massive black hole, named 3C273, at the same time are comparing data.  We're piecing together bits of the puzzle from this large suite of data, but we expect that the black hole itself is giving us information we can't capture with previous simple models.   This is really amazing!

uews© Caltech 2012