This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

New NASA Explorer Mission To Uncover Physics Of Neutron Stars And Demonstrate Game-Changing Navigation Technology

Neutron stars emit radiation across the spectrum, but observing in the X-ray band offers the greatest insights into their structure, the ultimate stability of their pulses as precise clock "ticks," and the high-energy, dynamic phenomena that they host, including starquakes, thermonuclear explosions, and the most powerful magnetic fields known in the universe.

NICER's array of 56 telescopes will collect X-rays generated both from hotspots on a neutron star's surface and from its tremendously strong magnetic field. There are two hotspots on a neutron star, one at each magnetic pole, where the star's intense magnetic field emerges from the surface. Here, particles trapped in the magnetic field rain down and generate X-rays when they strike the surface. As a hotspot spins through our line of sight, we perceive a rise and fall in X-ray brightness.

This subgroup of neutron stars rotates rapidly, emitting from their magnetic poles powerful beams of light that sweep around as the star spins, much like a lighthouse. At Earth, these beams are seen as flashes of light, pulsing on and off at intervals from seconds down to milliseconds, giving rise to the stars' alternate name, pulsars.

Because of their predictable pulsations—especially millisecond pulsars, which are the mission's prime target and are found to spin as much as 700 times per second—"they are extremely reliable celestial clocks" and can provide high-precision timing just like the atomic clock signals supplied through the 26-satellite, military-operated Global Positioning System (GPS), an Earth-centric service that weakens the farther one travels out beyond Earth orbit and into the solar system, Arzoumanian said.

As a result, NICER/SEXTANT also will demonstrate the viability of pulsar-based navigation. "The hardware needed for neutron star science is identical to that needed for pulsar-based navigation," Gendreau said. "In fact, the mission's two goals share many of the same targets and the same operational concept. The differences are on the back end in terms of how the data will be used."

2 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 16,776.43 +304.06 1.85%
S&P 500 1,987.05 +35.69 1.83%
NASDAQ 4,781.2640 +73.4890 1.56%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs