Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MIT Space Cameras Take First Pictures

Date:
October 17, 2005
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
X-ray cameras designed by MIT astrophysicists are a key component of a new instrument aboard an orbiting Japanese observatory that will probe the secrets of such phenomena as exploding stars. Recently MIT's team was overjoyed -- and relieved -- when the instrument, the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS), took its first pictures, flawlessly capturing the image of an exploded star in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

The X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer observatory recently took these images of a galaxy cluster (one for each of four cameras and telescopes key to the device).
Credit: Image courtesy / Mark Bautz, MIT

X-ray cameras designed by MIT astrophysicists are a key component ofa new instrument aboard an orbiting Japanese observatory that willprobe the secrets of such phenomena as exploding stars.

Recently MIT's team was overjoyed -- and relieved -- when theinstrument, the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (XIS), took its firstpictures, flawlessly capturing the image of an exploded star in theSmall Magellanic Cloud. Only a few weeks earlier, one of the other twoinstruments on the observatory, known as Suzaku, had failed.

For a little while Mark Bautz, leader of the MIT team, also fearedthe worst for XIS. He and colleagues had returned home from Japan,where they had activated their instrument, but were awaiting the finalstep -- the opening of the Japanese-built protective covers -- beforethe cameras could start taking images of the sky.

At 2 a.m. one August morning, Bautz waited in Boston for news ofwhether that step was successful. "I was trading instant messaging withmy Japanese colleagues right up until the commands were sent [to openthe covers], and then all of a sudden they stopped responding," saidthe principal research scientist at MIT's Kavli Institute forAstrophysics and Space Research. "I knew we had only a five-minutewindow, so it wasn't long before I was convinced it hadn't worked."

Half an hour later, the good news finally appeared on his screen."Turns out they were so excited the instrument worked that they forgotto let me know," said Bautz.

Although humans may revel in the bright hues of a rainbow or theflash of a colorful bird, we are blind to a host of other phenomenabecause they radiate light, like X-rays, that our eyes can't detect."It turns out that almost everything you see in the sky emits X-rays aswell, so you can learn a lot about an object by taking X-ray images,"Bautz said.

Enter Suzaku, the latest observatory to explore the X-ray sky. MIThas also been involved in past X-ray expeditions including theHigh-Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2), the Chandra X-Ray Observatoryand the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics (ASCA).

The XIS aboard Suzaku is composed of the four cameras developed byMIT plus four telescopes developed at NASA's Goddard Space FlightCenter that focus the sky onto the cameras. The cameras send the imagesback to Earth.

The researchers hope to learn more about such phenomena assupernovas (exploding stars) and clusters of galaxies so massive thatthey trap clouds of hot gas that emit X-rays.

In conjunction with another instrument aboard Suzaku, the XIS willalso help scientists study the emission processes near black holes."There's a nice synergy there because our instrument covers X-rays atvery low energies, while the other instrument goes to very highenergies. Together they'll help us put together the entire X-rayspectrum coming from matter just outside a black hole," Bautz said.

In addition to MIT and NASA, other institutions involved in XIS arethe Institute of Space and Astronomical Sciences of the JapaneseAerospace Exploration Agency, Osaka University and Kyoto University.

Bautz's MIT colleagues on the XIS team are Rick Foster, SteveKissel, Beverly LaMarr, Eric Miller, Gregory Prigozhin, George Ricker,Matthew Smith, James O'Connor and Michael Doucette, all of the KavliInstitute, and Jim Gregory, Barry Burke and Al Pillsbury of Lincoln Lab.

The Suzaku mission is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Space Cameras Take First Pictures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017065510.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2005, October 17). MIT Space Cameras Take First Pictures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017065510.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "MIT Space Cameras Take First Pictures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017065510.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Has Finally Reached Mars

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) After a 10-month voyage through space, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is now orbiting the Red Planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

SpaceX Cargo Ship Blasts Off Toward Space Station

AFP (Sep. 21, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo ship blasts off toward the International Space Station, carrying a load of supplies and science experiments for the astronauts living there. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

NASA's MAVEN To Study Martian Atmosphere

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) NASA's Maven will soon give information that could explain what happened to Mars' atmosphere. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins