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Suzaku Special Exhibit


The Suzaku satellite
(Click for larger view.)

The Mission

Suzaku is the fifth in a series of Japanese X-ray astronomy observatories, once again with NASA participation. It carries lightweight X-ray mirrors developed and built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA also took the lead in developing the X-ray spectrometer based on microcalorimeter technology (however, see below). Suzaku is a versatile observatory that has studies X-rays from celestial objects such as black holes, supernova remnants and clusters of galaxies.

The satellite was developed at Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is part of the Japan Aerospace Expolration Agency (JAXA). In additions, various Japanese universities collaborated with ISAS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop an X-ray imaging detector. The Japanese also developed an instrument to detect higher energy X-rays.

While under development, the satellite was known as Astro-E2, the name signifying that it was the recovery mission for ASTRO-E, which did not achieve orbit during launch in Feburary 2000. Astro-E2 was successfully launched from Japan in July 2005, and renamed to Suzaku once it attained orbit. Suzaku is the Japanese term for a divine, red sparrow-like bird in Chinese legend which provides protection from evil and brings good fortune. In Japanese culture, it also became the guardian of the South.

Fully deployed in space, Suzaku is 6.5 m tall and 1.85 m wide.


    * The X-ray Spectrometer (XRS) - The XRS was to be used for the first time in earth orbit to measure X-ray energies to very high precision; unfortunately, XRS prematurely lost all its liquid helium before observations began.
    * The X-ray Telescope (XRT) - X-rays aren't easy to focus. But Suzaku does it with light-weight telescopes.
    * The X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS) - The XIS instruments provide imaging and spectroscopy of low-energy X-rays.
    * The Hard X-ray Detector (HXD) - Suzaku covers high energy X-rays using the HXD.

Science Areas that Suzaku will Study

Suzaku studied a wide array of objects, but these are among the topics of particular interest:

  • Strong gravity around black holes
    Suzaku can observe a particular emission line that is emitted close to a black hole giving astronomers a unique look at the details of twisted space and warped time near a black hole.
    » Read more on the Collaboration Across Cultures blog: Scientists Nudge Closer to the Edge of a Black Hole
  • Identifying the composition in supernova remnants
    Suzaku can identifying specific chemical signature in the supernova remnant which helps astronomers form a clearer picture of the composition of the star before it blew up.
    » Read more on the Collaboration Across Cultures blog: Suzaku 'Post-mortem' Yields Insight into Kepler's Supernova
  • Hot gas and dark matter in clusters of galaxies
    Suzaku can map the X-ray emission of hot gas in clusters of galaxies to give astronomers the clearest picture to date of the size, mass and chemical content of a these gravitationally-bound collections of galaxies.
    » Read more on the Collaboration Across Cultures blog: Suzaku Shows Clearest Picture Yet of Perseus Galaxy Cluster

Publication Date: June 2005
Updated: September 2016


A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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