It’s been a fun year seeing what the scientific community has been doing with NuSTAR. This is from a science group that triggered a Target of Opportunity (ToO), which is basically what happens when something cool goes bump in the night that we either didn’t expect or couldn’t predict and someone comes to us and says “Hey, we should look at this, it’s really interesting!”
Here’s the figure that illustrates what we think we’re seeing, which is that the corona/jet changes with time (for some reason, we don’t know why).
We can’t separate the jet and the disk itself (otherwise I’d be showing you pictures of that rather than Robert’s artwork). Here the jet/corona is shown in purple and the accretion disk in orange/red. What we’re really seeing is the combination of the light from the jet/corona and the accretion disk. When the X-rays from the corona reflect off of the accretion disk we can try to figure out where the original X-rays were coming from.
The is made possible because NuSTAR can see further into the X-ray spectrum (think about seeing into the Ultraviolet while the rest of us can only see blue light) than other X-ray telescopes. This lets us track features in the spectrum that carry information about the geometry of the jet and the accretion disk. This information is hidden away from other telescopes because they don’t see exactly the right kind of light.
Here’s the link to the actual paper for those who might want to see what the actual science figures look like (Spoilers: Not as nice…).