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ISAS/JAXA Unveiling First Images and Spectra From Suzaku X-ray Astronomy Satellite

Suzaku successfully took first images of a supernova remnant in Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Doors of focal plane detectors, X-ray Imaging Spectrometers (the XIS(Figure 3)), were opened one by one between August 12th evening and 13th evening.
Right after the operations, X-rays from a supernova remnant in SMC, which had been being focused by the X-ray telescopes (the XRTs), were immediately detected with the XIS detectors.

The XIS consist of four X-ray CCD detectors: three of them (XIS-0,2 and 3) are front-side illuminated type while the other (XIS 1) is a back-side. Four pictures in Figure 1 are corresponding to the images taken with the four XIS detectors.
Figure 2 shows a preliminary X-ray spectrum of the supernova remnant taken with XIS-1. Emission lines from highly ionized ions such as Oxygen clearly appeared in the energy band of 500--700 eV. It has been difficult to resolve these emission lines from a highly extended celestial objects. The beautiful XIS spectrum demonstrates that Suzaku has an ability to attain to new knowledge on the chemical evolution of the interstellar materials of carbon, nitrogen and oxygens, the vital elements consisting of the human bodies.

XRT was built by JAXA, Nagoya University, GSFC/NASA and Tokyo Metropolitan University while XIS was by JAXA, Kyoto University, Osaka University. MIT and many other institutes.
Suzaku is an X-ray astronomy satellite launched on July 10th with the M-V rocket, a JAXA primary vehicle for space science. The first light images of the XIS detector were taken just 5 days after the tragedy happened on August 8th. the loss of another focal-plane detector XRS, an X-ray thermometer. The other instrument, HXD (the Hard X-ray Detector) sensitive to the high energy band will be ready soon for the observation.

Figure 1. Four images taken with the four XIS detectors

Figure 2. X-ray spectra with XIS-1

Figure 3. Instruments onboard Suzaku

August 17, 2005