Japanese satellite to probe black holes

July 14, 2005

Brussels, 13 Jul 2005

Japan's space agency, JAXA, launched an M-5 rocket on 10 July to deliver a satellite into Earth orbit that will probe high-energy astronomical phenomena in a 150 million USD (122 million euro) research project, the space agency said.

'A mid-size, solid-fuel M-5 rocket carrying the 1.7-ton X-ray satellite lifted off from the Kagoshima Space Centre in the southern Japanese town of Uchinoura at 12:30 pm (03:30 GMT) ', the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

The launch vehicle had a smooth flight, and confirmed that the satellite had been injected into its scheduled orbit. The ASTRO-EII satellite, which has been nicknamed 'Suzaku', will employ X-ray technology to investigate high-energy astronomical phenomena, such as black holes and supernovae.

It is equipped with X-ray telescopes and 3 kinds of detectors to perform broadband observations and high-resolution spectroscopy. The spectrometer has an energy resolution that is an order of magnitude better than those of previous instruments, enabling scientists to study in detail the emission lines from hot plasmas.

The dynamics of hot gases in clusters and in the vicinities of black holes can be examined by the shift of lines due to the Doppler effect. It is hoped that Suzaku will offer clues as to the dynamics of the merging of galaxy clusters - the collapse of the largest objects in the Universe - and also the line emissions from materials just as they fall into huge black holes.

The project is aimed at presenting significant contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the Universe, as well as the time-space structure under the effects of general relativity. Astro-EII will provide capabilities complementary to those of current X-ray observatories, such as Chandra (NASA) and XMM-Newton (ESA), and is expected to be a great asset for X-ray astronomers world-wide.

For further information, please consult the following web address:
http:///www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/ent erp/mission s/astro-e2/

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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