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Exploring Black Holes and Supernovae With NuSTAR

NuSTAR artist's concept

Air Date: 03/11/2014
Run Time: 35:00

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Topics: FY2014 NASA Budget, astronomy and astrophysics spacecraft, Planetary Radio, extrasolar planets, stars and galaxies, Bill Nye

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It’s the first high energy X-ray telescope in space, and it is providing theory-shattering data along with stunning images of some of the universe’s most fascinating objects. Principal Investigator Fiona Harrison provides a tour. Casey Dreier has analysis of the just announced 2015 NASA budget plans. Bill Nye sees the inherent optimism of science in the verification of another 715 exoplanets. Mat Kaplan has a JPL gift store present for Bruce Betts in What’s Up!

Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A as viewed by NuSTAR

NASA / JPL-Caltech / CXC / SAO

Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A as viewed by NuSTAR
Cassiopeia A is the remnant of a star that blew up in a supernova event whose light reached Earth about 350 years ago, when it could have appeared to observers as a star that suddenly brightened. The remnant is located 11,000 light-years away from Earth. In this image, NuSTAR data, which show high-energy X-rays from radioactive material, are colored blue. Lower-energy X-rays from non-radioactive material, imaged previously with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, are shown in red, yellow and green. The red, yellow and green data were collected by Chandra at energies ranging from 1 to 7 kiloelectron volts (keV). The red color shows heated iron, and green represents heated silicon and magnesium. The yellow is what astronomers call continuum emission, and represents a range of X-ray energies. The titanium-44, shown in blue, was detected by NuSTAR at energies ranging between 68 and 78 keV.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prize is "Beyond Earth," the beautiful, letterpress 19"x25" poster from Chop Shop. See it at

This week's question:

What was the first time astronauts flew in a spacecraft not designed to safely re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, March 18, at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What Curiosity rover instrument has an acronym name that when pronounced backwards gives you one of the things that instrument measures?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What is the approximate range of elevations on Venus?


The range of elevations on Venus is about 13 kilometers, though most of the planet is flatter than that.


No trivia contest spoilers please!

Chris Campbell: 03/13/2014 11:57 CDT

You should mention here, in this show description, the "special report" that you also did this week on the NASA budget release. At the very least put it in that list of links mentioned during the show, but I think it deserves its own sentence or two here.

Swapnil Saxena: 03/15/2014 02:16 CDT

For some reason, the trivia contest entry form page still shows last week's question.

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