Planetary Radio • Mar 11, 2014

Exploring Black Holes and Supernovae With NuSTAR

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On This Episode

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Fiona Harrison

Professor of Physics and Astronomy for Caltech

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
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.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / CXC / SAO

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This week's question:

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

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Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] 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.