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Xrism Mission, here's your first look at the universe

Xrism Mission, here's your first look at the universe

Supernova remnant N132D is located in the central part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy about 160,000 light-years away. Xtend captured the rest with x-rays, as shown in the inset photo. At its widest, N132D is about 75 light-years across. Although bright in X-rays, stellar debris is almost invisible in the background view taken on Earth in visible light. Credits: Insert, JAXA/NASA/Xrism Xtend; Background, C. Smith, S. Points, Mcels team and NoirLab/NSf/Aura

Last week, the science team for the Xrism mission published the first images and spectra from its two instruments, Solution H Extend. Specifically, a spectrum of a supernova remnant in a nearby galaxy and an X-ray snapshot of a cluster of hundreds of galaxies.

The Xrism mission, led by JAXA in cooperation with NASA and with contributions from the European Space Agency, was launched on September 6, 2023 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Designed to detect X-rays with energies up to 12 thousand electron volts (compared to 2 or 3 electron volts for visible light), Xrism will study the hottest regions of the universe, the largest structures and objects with the strongest gravity.

“Xrism will provide the international scientific community with a new glimpse into the hidden X-ray sky,” he says. Richard Kelly, Principal Investigator From Xrism in Goddard Space Flight Center NASA. “Not only will we see X-ray images of these sources, but we will also study their structures, motions and physical states.”

Going back to the two tools on board the Xrism, Solution It is a microcalorimetry spectrometer developed by NASA and JAXA. It operates a fraction of a degree above absolute zero inside a refrigerator-sized container containing liquid helium. When the X-rays reach their detector (6 pixels x 6 pixels), they heat the device by an amount proportional to its energy. By measuring the energy of each X-ray individually, the device provides unprecedented information about the source.

Xrism's Resolve tool obtained data from the N132D supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud to create the most detailed X-ray spectrum of this object to date. The spectrum reveals peaks associated with silicon, sulfur, argon, calcium and iron. On the right, an image of the N132D taken with the Xtend tool. Image source: JAXA/NASA/Xrism Resolve and Xtend

Use the mission team Solution To study N132DAnd Supernova remnants It is one of the brightest X-ray sources in the world Large Magellanic CloudIt is a dwarf galaxy about 160 thousand light-years away and located in the constellation of the Southern Star Dorado. The expanding remains are estimated to be about 3,000 years old, and were formed when a star with a mass of about 15 times the mass of the Sun ran out of fuel, collapsed and exploded. Spectrum Solution It shows peaks associated with silicon, sulfur, calcium, argon and iron. This is the most detailed X-ray spectrum ever obtained for the object in question, and shows the amazing science the mission will be able to achieve.

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“These elements were formed in the original star and then exploded when it exploded as a supernova,” he explains. Brian Williams, a scientist with NASA's Xrism Project. “Solution It allows us to see the shapes of these lines in a way that was not possible before, allowing us to determine not only the abundances of the different elements present, but also their temperatures, densities and directions of movement with unprecedented levels of precision. From here, we will be able to piece together information about the original star and the explosion.”

The second Xrism tool Extendthat it Photography device Developed by Jaxa, it provides Xrism with a wide field of view, allowing it to observe an area of ​​the sky about 60% larger than the average apparent size of a full moon.

Xrism's Xtend instrument captured the Abell 2319 galaxy cluster in X-rays, shown here in purple and outlined with a white border representing the detector's range. The background is a ground level image showing the area in visible light. Credits: JAXA/NASA/Extreme Extend; Background, DSS

Extend An x-ray was taken of Apple 2319a rich group of galaxies about 770 million light-years away in the constellation Swan. It is the fifth brightest X-ray cluster in the sky and is currently undergoing a major merger event. The cluster is 3 million light-years across and highlights a wide field of view Extend.

“Even before the end of the commissioning process, Solution “It is already exceeding our expectations,” he says. Lillian ReichenthalResponsible for the Xrism project. “Our goal was to achieve a spectral resolution of 7 MeV with the instrument, but now that it is in orbit, we have achieved 5. This means we will get much more detailed chemical maps with each spectrum acquired by Xrism.”

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Solution It shows exceptional performance and is already conducting exciting scientific activity despite the problem encountered in the hatch covering its detector. The door, designed to protect the detector before launch, did not open as expected. Its mission is to block low-energy X-rays: after this anomaly, the cutoff is now set at 1,700 MeV compared to the expected 300. The Xrism team is considering different ways to solve the problem, which do not affect the proper functioning of the tool Extend.