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Astro-H Satellite Will Gather Elusive X-ray Data From Black Holes and Supernovae

Press Release From: Canadian Astronomical Society
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011

image Japanese and Canadian astronomers are working together to develop a new satellite capable of detecting and imaging high- and low-energy X-ray emissions from space. The Astro-H observatory will use a variety of instruments to make observations of some of the most extreme and volatile objects in the Universe, and will allow astronomers to study the dynamics and environments of black holes, supernova remnants, and galaxy clusters. The observatory is designed to achieve exceptionally high resolution X-ray spectra and some of the first high-energy X-ray images.

The international project, known as the "Astro-H X-ray Mission," is spearheaded by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and is set to launch in 2014. Canadian astronomers and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are collaborating on the project, and are responsible for designing the satellite's alignment system. The system, called the Canadian Astro-H Metrology System (CAMS), will allow researchers to correct their data for fluctuations in the alignment experienced by the satellite while in space. This will allow scientists to reduce the blurring and distortion effects in images captured by the satellite.

"The possibilities of what we could learn from this observatory are incredible," said Dr. Luigi Gallo, the principal investigator of the Canadian portion of the project. "We will not only view certain characteristics of astronomical objects for the first time, but we will also view them with a degree of accuracy and precision unparalleled in previous X-ray missions."

More information about the project is available on the project website: http://ap.smu.ca/astroh/

A paper detailing the project will also be released at the upcoming Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) Annual Conference, which is being hosted this year by the University of Western Ontario from May 30th to June 2nd in London, Ontario: http://www.casca2011.com/index.html

The Canadian Astronomical Society (http://www.casca.ca) was founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1983 as a society of professional astronomers. The society is devoted to the promotion and advancement of knowledge of the universe through research and education. Membership is open to persons with a professional involvement with these goals in astronomy and the related sciences. The main activities of the Society are its annual scientific meetings, the planning and realization of scientific projects, the support of the scientific activities of its members, and the dissemination of related information among members and other interested persons. The Society supports committees on Optical and Infrared Astronomy, Radio Astronomy, Space Astronomy, Theoretical Astronomy, Education, Heritage, Canadian Grad Students, and Awards. Cassiopeia, the quarterly newsletter of the Society, is published at equinoxes and solstices.

Media Contacts:

Leslie Sage
CASCA Press Officer
+1 301-675-8957 (cell)
cascapressofficer@gmail.com

Janet Stalker
Saint Mary's University
+1 902-222-6669
janet.stalker@smu.ca

Science Contact:
Dr. Luigi Gallo
Saint Mary's University
+1 902-420-5637
luigi.gallo@smu.ca

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