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Celebrating 10 Years of Suzaku

Suzaku launch photo

Suzaku's launch on July 10, 2005. (Credit: Scott Porter/NASA)

Artist conception of Suzaku

Artist's concept of Suzaku in space. (Credit: ISAS)

We are celebrating 10 years since the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) launched Suzaku into orbit on July 10th, 2005. After a decade in the harsh radiation environment of space, Suzaku is winding down its operations while scientists at ISAS/JAXA and many other Japanese institutions, along with collaborators from US, Europe and Canada are busy preparing the next Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite (ASTRO-H) for launch in early next year. This seemed a perfect opportunity to look back at ten of Suzaku's greatest scientific hits.

Suzaku is Japan's fifth X-ray astronomy satellite with significant contributions from the US (NASA/GSFC and MIT). And even though Suzaku lost its revolutionary, microcalorimeter-based, X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) instrument before it could make astronomical observations, the satellite has proven to be a very productive mission.

Operating simultaneously with two other major international X-ray observatories, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton, Suzaku managed to find several scientific niches.

  • Suzaku has wide-band capability allowing it to observe the 0.2-600 keV band by simultaneously using its X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS) operating in the 0.2-10 keV range and Hard X-ray Detector (HXD) operating in the 10-600 keV range.
  • The XIS's CCDs are from a newer generation than those onboard Chandra and XMM-Newton, giving it good spectral resolution.
  • The XIS has low background, therefore high sensitivity, for extended X-ray sources, which is the result of the shorter focal length of its X-Ray Telescopes (XRTs) and the observatory's location in a low Earth orbit.

To celebrate Suzaku's 10th anniversary, and highlight how it has used its niche to advance our knowledge of the universe's hot spots, we have asked Suzaku scientist (and long-time Imagine the Universe team member), Koji Mukai, to choose his top ten Suzaku science stories. These stories fall into three general categories:

Or see all ten stories here: Top Ten Suzaku Science Stories.

Special thanks to Koji Mukai, Aurora Simionescue, Laura Brenneman, and Brian Williams for their contributions to this series of articles.

Publication Date: July 2015