Black hole observatory launched from Japan

17 February 2016 Stephen Clark

Japan launched a pioneering observatory with X-ray vision Wednesday to peer into the mysterious, light-starved neighbourhoods around black holes and study the genesis of galaxies and other cosmic mega-structures billions of light-years from Earth.


ASTRO-H satellite poised to enhance views of X-ray sky

7 February 2016 Astronomy Now

A new science satellite, the ASTRO-H X-ray Observatory, will blast into Earth orbit this month. The project, led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), aims to collect a wealth of new data on everything from the formation of galaxy clusters to the warping of space and time around black holes. ASTRO-H boasts a sensitivity level that is orders of magnitude better than previous technology.


NASA applauds Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki’s rendezvous with Venus

10 December 2015 Astronomy Now

Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft got another shot at Venus after a main engine failure during a crucial orbital-insertion burn meant it zipped past the planet on its first attempt in December 2010. The probe spent five years orbiting the Sun so it could catch up with Venus to try again on 7 December. The successful nail-biting manoeuvre is being celebrated by NASA scientists, eager to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Earth’s enigmatic sister planet.


IRIS and Hinode: a stellar research team

26 August 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite, or IRIS, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA)/NASA’s Hinode solar observatory, have just made a significant step towards understanding why the corona — the outermost, wispy layer of the Sun’s atmosphere — is hundreds of times hotter than the lower photosphere, which is the Sun’s visible surface.


Supermassive black hole blasts star-making gas from galaxy’s core

26 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Many galaxies blast huge, wide-angled flows of material outward from their centres, pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year that otherwise would have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our Sun. A team led by University of Maryland scientists has found the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows.