Launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite will detect X-ray wavelengths with unprecedented precision. It will help us look into the hearts of galaxy clusters, observe the work of black holes and supernovae, and also tell us about the elementary composition of the Universe.
Unlike existing X-ray telescopes, XRISM will be able to distinguish between the colors of X-rays, providing scientists with an extraordinary amount of information. It contains a new type of device that detects X-rays by tiny temperature shifts. He will be able to determine what chemical elements are present in the object in question – for example, iron, nickel, oxygen or silicon. XRISM will also be able to read gas velocities.
UChicago scientists will analyze the first observations of several massive galaxy clusters and groups of galaxies. The big question is related to supermassive black holes, which are located at the centers of galaxy clusters. Scientists know that these black holes release energy into their surroundings, which regulates the rate of star formation. But exactly how these black holes interact with their host galaxies remains an open question.
“Until now, we have studied the physics of these interactions by studying ‘static’ image data,” explained Irina Zhuravleva, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics. “Using XRISM, we will measure the speeds of gas driven by supermassive black holes and study the mixing of different gases and metals.”
Carrying out similar measurements of the outer regions of galaxy clusters will also reveal how energy is transferred within the Universe.
In addition, XRISM will accurately measure the abundance of various chemical elements and the distribution of metals inside and outside galaxies, revealing which type of exploding stars is responsible for the current chemical composition of the Universe.
Because the Earth’s atmosphere blocks X-rays, these observations must be made from space. Launching a satellite and controlling all the instruments from space is an extraordinary task. Three previous attempts had been made to launch and operate similar satellites, but they failed; Scientists hope that this time they will succeed.
After launch, the XRISM satellite will be tested and calibrated to ensure all instruments are ready for the start of the observing program.
“XRISM will usher in a new era of high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy,” Zhuravleva said.
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