Japan to launch Astro-H satellite to study black holes today

The space observatory is scheduled to take off at 3:45 a.m. EST from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, Japan.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2016, 10:41 AM IST
Japan to launch Astro-H satellite to study black holes today
Image credit: Twitter/NASA

Washington: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is all set to launch its sixth satellite dedicated to X-ray astronomy, ASTRO-H, via its H-IIA rocket on Wednesday to study black holes and galaxy clusters.

The space observatory is scheduled to take off at 3:45 a.m. EST from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima, Japan. The launch date was originally scheduled for February 12, but was delayed due to bad weather.

The 2,700-kilogram (6,000 lb) satellite is equipped with four telescopes and six detectors, allowing it to study both “hard” and “soft” x-rays and gamma rays.

ASTRO-H is capable of observing X-ray sources, like galaxy clusters and neutron stars, more than 10 times fainter than its predecessor, Suzaku, which operated from 2005 to 2015.

Japan's X-ray satellite is expected to provide breakthroughs in a wide variety of high-energy phenomena in the cosmos, ranging from the superheated material on the brink of falling into a black hole to the evolution of vast galaxy clusters.

ASTRO-H is expected to operate in low Earth orbit for three years.

(Source: NASA)