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NuSTAR mission captures images of black holes, supernovae

Narrator:       This is Science Today. What is the role of black holes in our universe? That is the fundamental question behind NASA's NuSTAR mission, a spacecraft that has a telescope with a mast the length of a school bus. Astrophysicist Bill Craig of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who helped develop the imaging technology, explains that they know that black holes are associated with galaxies, but they're not sure why that association exists.

Craig:            By looking in the hard X-ray, we'll be able to peer through the dust that shrouds those and learn more about the physics.

Narrator:       NuSTAR recently detected 10 "supermassive black holes, which is the first of hundreds expected from the mission over the next two years. NuSTAR is also capturing unprecedented images of supernovae.

Craig:            My particular interest is in supernova remnants, so as the data come in, we'll be building up maps and histories and time histories of what's going on and we'll be looking at that data against our theories of how these objects actually work. But consequently, we've got this factor of a hundred or more, more sensitivity than before, we really will learn a lot by looking at the data and seeing whether the theories even make sense.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.