Colloq Abstract - Arzoumanian

by Hubertus Intema last modified Mar 01, 2018 by Lori Appel

March 9

11:00am Mountain


Zavan Arzoumanian (NASA/Goddard)


A NICER View:  Astrophysics and Exploration from the International Space Station




Neutron stars are extraordinary in nearly every way. They are made of the densest stuff in the universe, their gravity is immense, and they are the most powerful magnets known. Some -- those we call "pulsars" -- sweep narrow beams of radiation through space as they spin, often as fast as blender blades, appearing to flash with unrivaled regularity like cosmic timepieces. Launched in June 2017, NASA's dual-purpose Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission aims to answer longstanding questions about the physics and astrophysics of neutron stars, with a telescope on the International Space Station designed to investigate their X-ray emissions and precisely time their pulsations. The mission's second purpose is a first-ever demonstration of autonomous spacecraft navigation using pulsars as beacons in a "Galactic Positioning System." This presentation provides an overview of the NICER mission, its SEXTANT navigation demonstration, and the insights that NICER is revealing about the physics of neutron stars, black holes, and the high-energy processes that they drive.