February 17, 2016 3:01 pm
Updated: February 17, 2016 3:29 pm

New space telescope will allow Canadian astronomers to study black holes, supernovas

The launch of ASTRO-H on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 from Japan.

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A new Japanese space telescope was successfully launched from the Tanegashima Space Center Wednesday morning with a Canadian-built laser on board.

The telescope, ASTRO-H, uses x-ray vision to peer across not only our galaxy but the universe, and will shed light on black holes, supernovas and clusters of galaxies.

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This is the Japan Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) sixth x-ray satellite. On board the telescope is the Canadian ASTRO-H Metrology System (CAMS) instrument provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). As a result three Canadian astronomers lead the mission’s science team. They, along with their students and researchers, will use the telescope in their studies on the highly energetic processes going on in the universe.

Using x-rays, we can see processes invisible to the human eye, including material falling into a black hole. Galaxy clusters and neutron stars — small and incredibly dense stars where a teaspoon of the stuff would weigh about a billion tons — are great sources of x-rays. Studying them would help astronomers and astrophysicists understand the evolution and death of stars and galaxies.

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