XRISM has launched!

Thursday, September 7, 2023
Artististic rendering of XRISM

The X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), and the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), were sucessfully launched onboard the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 47 (H-IIA F47) at 8:42:11 am on September 7, 2023 (Japan Standard Time, JST)/ 7:42:11 pm on September 6, 2023 (EDT) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

WCA Astronomer, Brian McNamara has been an integral part of the XRISM mission since its inception.  The path to XRISM, McNamara's involvement and the science that he is most excited to see come from XRISM are published in a University News article, "Countdown to XRISM".

XRISM, led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in collaboration with NASA and global partners, will study the universe’s hottest regions, largest structures, and objects with the strongest gravity.  These high-energy X-rays offer insights into the behavior of superheated gases enveloping supermassive black holes, galaxies and galaxy clusters.XRISM features two instruments: Resolve, an X-ray calorimeter spectrometer, and Xtend, an X-ray imager. Resolve is a collaboration between JAXA and NASA. It will create spectra, measurements of light’s intensity over a range of energies, for X-rays from 400 to 12,000 electron volts. (For comparison, visible light energies range from about 2 to 3 electron volts.) These high-energy X-rays offer insights into the behavior of superheated gases enveloping supermassive black holes, galaxies and galaxy clusters. Xtend, developed by JAXA, will give XRISM one of the largest fields of view of any X-ray imaging satellite flown to date, observing an area about 60% larger than the average apparent size of the full Moon. Xtend will perform simultaneous observations with Resolve, providing complementary information.

Resolve will help astronomers learn more about the composition and motion of extremely hot gas within clusters of galaxies, near-light-speed particle jets powered by black holes in active galaxies, and other cosmic mysteries.  The Webb telescope captures similar spectra, but in the infrared. Webb’s spectra have revealed the makeup of gas near active black holes and mapped the movement of this material toward or away from the viewer. Data from XRISM’s Resolve instrument will do the same at higher energies, helping paint a fuller picture of these objects.

After delaying an original launch date of August 26 due to bad weather, the launch vehicle flew as planned on September 6. It was confirmed that XRISM was successfully separated from the launch vehicle at about 14 minutes and 9 seconds after launch and SLIM at about 47 minutes and 33 seconds after launch.

Banner image: This artist's concept shows a face-on view of the XRISM (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) spacecraft. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab