On Sept. 6, a new satellite was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite aims to provide groundbreaking information about the motions of hot plasma flows in the universe.
XRISM is a collaborative mission between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA, with participation from the European Space Agency. Unlike existing X-ray telescopes, XRISM is equipped with a new type of instrument that can detect different colors of X-ray light. This allows for the identification of chemical elements present in objects, as well as their abundances. XRISM will also be able to measure the velocities of gas motions.
The satellite will provide scientists with a new view of the hot and energetic universe. Observations will include stellar explosions, interactions of black holes with their host galaxies, and violent mergers of galaxy clusters in unprecedented detail. The mission also aims to make unexpected discoveries that often accompany new missions.
X-rays are produced by some of the most extreme phenomena in space, such as exploding stars, matter circling around supermassive black holes, and mergers of galaxy clusters. Scientists from the University of Chicago will be analyzing the first observations of massive galaxy clusters and groups, with a focus on understanding how supermassive black holes interact with their host galaxies.
XRISM will also measure the abundances of different chemical elements and the distribution of metals within and outside galaxies. This will provide insights into the type of exploding stars responsible for the current chemical makeup of the universe.
Launching a satellite and operating instruments in space is a significant challenge as X-rays are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. Previous attempts to launch similar satellites have failed, but scientists are hopeful for the success of the XRISM mission. The satellite will undergo testing and calibration before beginning its observing program later this year.
The XRISM satellite will open a new era of high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy, providing highly anticipated data for analysis.