NASA is restarting a mission with greater capability for usinghigh-energy X-rays to detect black holes.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is an X-ray telescope designed to answer fundamental questions about the universe, such as how black holes are distributed through the cosmos.
Funding pressures forced NASA cancel the NuSTAR mission in 2006, but the restarted mission is expected to be up and running in 2011.
"NuSTAR has more than500 times the sensitivity of previous instruments that detect black holes. It's a great opportunity for us to explore an important astronomical frontier," Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science MissionDirectorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a release.
Black holes can't be seen directly because they're so dense not even light can escape their pull. Instead, astronomers use X-ray telescopes to detect the X-rays given off when objects fall into black holes.
By focusing X-rays at higher energy, NuSTAR will also answer questions such as: How were the elements that compose our bodies and the Earth forged in the explosions of massive stars? What powers the most extreme active galaxies?