From the May 2014 issue

Web Extra: Watch NuSTAR do its thing

NuSTAR is a feat of strange engineering that is able to discover strange sloshing in stars, as these two videos show.
By | Published: May 26, 2014
NuSTAR mission
NuSTAR, as shown in this artist’s concept, has a 30-foot (10 meters) mast that deployed after launch to separate the optics modules (right) from the detectors in the focal plane (left).

Once it was in space, the Nuclear Spectrocoptic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) unfolded its long arm, separating its reflector and its detector. Without this special setup, it wouldn’t be able to capture the energetic hard X-rays that are its specialty. Watch the process in action in this video.

You’ve never seen a supernova up close. If you had, you would be dead and not reading this sentence. But scientists have a way to get a close look at processes that happen far, far away. They model these happenings on powerful computers, programming software to create virtual stars and black holes that behave as the real ones would in a given situation. In this video, astronomers simulated a star just before and just after a supernova explosion. NuSTAR showed that stars “slosh around,” a liquidity that’s reflected here.