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Published August 9, 2018 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Pushing the limits of the NuSTAR detectors


NuSTAR (the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray) is a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission launched in June of 2012. Since its launch, NuSTAR has been the preeminent instrument for spectroscopic analysis of the hard X-ray sky over the 3-80 keV bandpass. The low energy side of the bandpass is limited by the absorption along the photon path as well as by the ability of the pixels to trigger on incident photons. The on-board calibration source does not have a low-energy line that we can use to calibrate this part of the response, so instead we use the "nearest-neighbor" readout in the NuSTAR detector architecture to calibrate the individual pixel thresholds for all 8 flight detectors on both focal plane modules (FPMs). These threshold measurements feed back into the quantum efficiency of the detectors at low (<5 keV) energies and, once well-calibrated, may allow the use of NuSTAR data below the current 3 keV limit.

Additional Information

© 2018 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). BG acknowledges valuable conversations with W. Rick Cook and Jill Burhnam during the development of this paper. This work was supported under NASA Contract No. NNG08FD60C, and made use of data from the NuS-TAR mission, a project led by the California Institute of Technology, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This work makes use of open source code produced by the community, including Astropy, a community-developed core Python package for Astronomy (Astropy Collaboration, 2018) and the SciPy ecosystem. All graphics were produced using Veusz, Copyright (C) 2003-2018 Jeremy Sanders and contributors.

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