NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscope Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has imaged a swath of the Andromeda galaxy — the nearest large galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy.
NuSTAR’s view (inset) shows high-energy X-rays coming mostly from X-ray binaries, which are pairs of stars in which one “dead” member feeds off its companion. The dead member of the pair is either a black hole or neutron star. NuSTAR can pick up even the faintest of these objects, providing a better understanding of their population, as a whole, in Andromeda. The findings ultimately help astronomers gather clues about similar objects in the very distant universe.
Andromeda is a spiral galaxy like our Milky Way but larger in size. It lies 2.5 million light-years away in the Andromeda constellation.
NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, California, and with support from the Italian Space Agency (ASI) Science Data Center.