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Nova illustration

Shock Waves Power an Exploding Star

Roughly 50 times each year, a star nearing the end of its life accretes too much material from a close companion star and erupts in a violent display of light — shedding its outer surface and propelling shock waves into our galaxy — only to recover and smolder as it … Continue Reading →


Many of NICER’s 56 X-ray “concentrators” seen from within the instrument optical bench. Light reflected from the gold surfaces of the 24 concentric foils in each concentrator is focused onto detectors slightly more than 1 meter (3.5 feet) away. Credit: Credit: NASA/Goddard/ Keith Gendreau

#PulsarWeek: NICER Ask Me Anything! – Part 2

  • By Barb Mattson
  • August 16, 2017
  • Comments Off on #PulsarWeek: NICER Ask Me Anything! – Part 2

On August 7, 2017, as the grande finale to #PulsarWeek, members of the recently-launched Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission team sat down for an hour to answer questions about the mission, pulsars, space navigation, and even more off-the-wall topics in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) event. We’ve … Continue Reading →


NICER AMA team

#PulsarWeek: NICER Ask Me Anything! – Part 1

  • By Sara Mitchell
  • August 16, 2017
  • Comments Off on #PulsarWeek: NICER Ask Me Anything! – Part 1

On August 7, 2017, as the grande finale to #PulsarWeek, members of the recently-launched Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission team sat down for an hour to answer questions about the mission, pulsars, space navigation, and even more off-the-wall topics in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) event. We’ve … Continue Reading →


Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell

#PulsarWeek: The women who study pulsars

  • By Sara Mitchell
  • August 6, 2017
  • Comments Off on #PulsarWeek: The women who study pulsars

For the past week, we have been celebrating #PulsarWeek on social media in honor of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of pulsars. For more on the discovery itself, and about some of the researchers currently studying pulsars in NASA Goddard’s Astrophysics Science Division, here’s a guest blog from Goddard … Continue Reading →


millisecond pulsar visualizaiton

RXTE’s Greatest Pulsar Hits

A pulsar is the crushed core of an exploded star, a rapidly spinning cinder that repeatedly swings a beam of light in our direction. Check out the post “Lighthouses in Space” for more about what pulsars are, how they work and why we study them. On the eve of the … Continue Reading →


BETTII outside in August 2016

Peering into the Dusty Corners of the Universe with BETTII

  • By Sara Mitchell
  • June 8, 2017
  • Comments Off on Peering into the Dusty Corners of the Universe with BETTII

Sara’s note: We’re excited to tell you about one of the Goddard-built balloon-borne astrophysics missions launching this week! This is a guest post (and photos) from Dr. Stephen Rinehart. The Balloon Experimental Twin Telescope for Infrared Interferometry (BETTII) is a 8-meter long far-infrared interferometer designed to fly on a high … Continue Reading →


NICER CRS-11 launch

NICER is on its way to the ISS!

The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) launched successfully from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center today at 5:07PM EDT! Check out this spectacular launch: NICER had plenty of company on its ride up to the International Space Station, as the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched with almost 6,000 pounds of cargo including … Continue Reading →


Tod Strohmayer with NICER sample telescope

NICER and Neutron Stars: 5 Questions with Dr. Tod Strohmayer

  • By Barb Mattson
  • June 1, 2017
  • Comments Off on NICER and Neutron Stars: 5 Questions with Dr. Tod Strohmayer

As we’re gearing up for the launch of NICER, we wanted to give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at the mission, its science, and the people who are making it happen. NICER is NASA’s first mission designed specifically for the study of neutron stars, so we are kicking things off … Continue Reading →


NICER payload at Kennedy Space Center

Meet NICER: NASA’s Neutron Star Explorer

  • By Sara Mitchell
  • May 31, 2017
  • Comments Off on Meet NICER: NASA’s Neutron Star Explorer

This white box may not look like much, but it contains a cutting-edge payload that will soon be headed to the International Space Station. The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is a NASA Explorer Mission of Opportunity dedicated to the study of neutron stars and all of their extraordinary … Continue Reading →


IR Horsehead

The Truth About Hubble, JWST, and False Color

  • By Maggie Masetti
  • September 13, 2016
  • Comments Off on The Truth About Hubble, JWST, and False Color

I get a lot of questions asking why the James Webb Space Telescope is infrared, and how its images can hope to compare to the (primarily) optical Hubble Space Telescope. Why would NASA build something that isn’t going to capture beautiful images exactly like Hubble does? The short answer to … Continue Reading →


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