NuStar Image Shows X-Rays Streaming Off the Sun

Posted on December 27, 2014

NuStar photo shows high-energy x-rays streaming from Sun

NASA used the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) to capture images of the Sun for the first time. The image shows high-energy x-rays streaming off the the sun. NuSTAR is an orbiting telescope that was created to take x-ray images of black holes and collapsed stars.

The NuSTAR observation data was overlayed on a photograph taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The high-energy x-rays recorded by NuSTAR are pictured in green and blue in the above photograph. The green color indicates energies between 2 and 3 kiloelectron volts and blue color shows energies between 3 and 5 kiloelectron volts. NASA says the high-energy x-rays are the result of gas being heated to over 3 million degrees.

Professor Fiona Harrison, from the California Institute of Technology, told Astronomy magazine that the idea of using NuSTAR on the Sun was initially thought of a crazy idea. Harrison says, "At first I thought the whole idea was crazy. Why would we have the most sensitive high energy X-ray telescope ever built, designed to peer deep into the universe, look at something in our own back yard?"

Harrison became excited about using NuSTAR to study the Sun after talking with David Smith, a solar physicist and NuSTAR team member. The telescope has the potential to record aint X-ray flashes. Astronomy says NuSTAR has the potential to capture a nanoflare in action. It can also be used to search for dark matter particles called axions.

You can view a larger version of the above photograph here on nasa.gov.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC