NASA captured two images – one using the highly-powerful, and highly-sensitive NuSTAR telescope of something that many would not have expected to be at the receiving the attention of this sought after telescope. As it turns out, the results showed it was most-certainly worth it. The telescope captured the high energy X-rays that surround the clusters of activity on the sun.
The image captured a series of waves coming from the sun. The waves are seen in the varying colors – specifically the bluish-green patches that are visible, and signify X-rays. The reddish colors are the lower energy waves that come from the sun. Scientists are eager to continue studying the sun with this telescope as it becomes less active over the next several years. Over the last year, or two, the sun has become more active, as it does from time-to-time. It’s the natural lifecycle of the sun, and something that scientists have long-accounted for in their studies of the sun to this point.
Now though, the hope is that this telescope will help scientists identify dark matter. That means looking at dark matter – since they recently found the sound wave, or the wave length that might be associated with dark matter. The increased sensitivity that this telescope has will provide it with the right calibration to bring those types of reading to NASA scientists. Specifically, scientists will be looking for axions, as they are the only visible portion of dark matter that is currently known to humans – in sight. They show up as an x-ray, and would produce the same visual effects as were see in the above image.
Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology pointed out that “At first I thought the whole idea was crazy.” She is the NuSTAR principal investigator. She went on to point out the obvious questions scientists had heading into the study. She said, “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 back yard?” The other benefit of using NuSTAR is the ability for scientists to have only the important radiations be captured by the telescope, instead of everything.