XRISM (pronounced „crism”) launched on September 6, 2023 with the SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) satellite, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Day and aims to land the nation's first moon landing on January 20.
The satellite's science team released a snapshot of hundreds of galaxies and a spectrum of stellar debris in a neighboring galaxy, giving scientists a detailed look at its chemical makeup.
„XRISM will provide the international scientific community with a new view of the hidden X-ray sky,” said Richard Kelly, US principal investigator for XRISM at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
„We will not only look at X-ray images of these sources, but also study their compositions, motions and physical states,” Kelly added.
XRISM is a collaboration with NASA, with contributions from ESA (European Space Agency).
It is designed to detect X-rays with energies up to 12,000 electron volts and will study the hottest parts of the universe, massive structures and objects with strong gravitational pull. In comparison, visible light has an energy of 2 to 3 electron volts.
The mission consists of two instruments, Resolve and Extend, each centered on an X-ray mirror assembly designed and built at Goddard.
RESOLVE is a microcalorimeter spectrometer developed by NASA and JAXA. It operates within a refrigerator-sized container of liquid helium at a temperature a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.
When an X-ray hits the Resolvin's 6-by-6-pixel detector, it heats the device by an amount proportional to its energy. By measuring the energy of each individual X-ray, the instrument provides previously unavailable information about the source.
The mission team used Resolve to study N132D, a supernova remnant and one of the brightest X-ray sources in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy about 160,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado.
The expanding debris is estimated to be about 3,000 years old and formed when a star with about 15 times the mass of the Sun ran out of fuel, collapsed, and exploded.
The resolved spectrum shows peaks corresponding to silicon, sulphur, calcium, argon and iron. This is the most detailed X-ray spectrum of the object ever obtained, and demonstrates the incredible science the mission will do when regular operations begin in 2024.
XRISM's second instrument, Xtend, is an X-ray imager developed by JAXA. This gives XRISM a large field of view, allowing it to observe an area 60 percent larger than the average apparent size of the full moon.
Xtend captured an X-ray image of Abell 2319, about 770 million light-years away in the northern constellation Cygnus. It is the fifth brightest X-ray cluster in the sky and is currently undergoing a major merger event.
The cluster spans three million light-years and highlights Xtend's broad vision.
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