A new view of the high energy universe will soon be obtained after the launch of an eagerly-awaited satellite observatory currently dubbed "Astro-H". Astro-H, pictured above during its unveiling to the press on November 27, 2015, is Japan's sixth X-ray astronomy mission, and it follows the recently completed mission of Japan's Suzaku X-ray Observatory. Astro-H is major international collaboration led by JAXA with over 70 contributing institutions in Japan, the US, Canada, and Europe. It will carry aloft four X-ray instruments: a Soft X-ray Imager, to provide images and X-ray spectra at relatively low X-ray energies; the Hard X-ray Imager, to provide images at energies up to 80 keV (complementing NASA's NuSTAR X-ray observatory); the Soft Gamma-ray Detector, which allows measurements of Gamma-Ray radiation; and the Soft X-ray Spectrometer, a much-anticipated instrument featuring an X-ray calorimeter which provides exceptionally high-resolution X-ray spectra by measuring the tiny temperature changes produced when an X-ray strikes an ultra-cold absorber. NASA contributed the Soft X-ray Spectrometer, and the X-ray mirrors used to produce the high-quality images of the high-energy Universe which Astro-H will obtain. Astro-H observations will help trace the growth of galaxies and their central supermassive black holes, probe material suffering the warped spacetime around spinning black holes and neutron stars, measure the chemical evolution of the Galaxy, and help show how black holes both accrete matter and expel extreme particle jets. Astro-H is currently scheduled to launch from Japan's Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center on February 12, 2016.
Published: January 18, 2016
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 25-Jan-2016 09:07:11 EST