Japan Launches ASTRO-H Satellite to Study Black Holes

Japan successfully launched a jointly developed space observation satellite for studying mysterious black holes. The launch date was originally scheduled for February 12, but was delayed due to bad weather.

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The 2,700-kilogram (6,000 lb) satellite is equipped with four telescopes and six detectors, allowing it to study both “hard” and “soft” x-rays and gamma rays.

ASTRO-H is capable of observing X-ray sources, like galaxy clusters and neutron stars, more than 10 times fainter than its predecessor, Suzaku, which operated from 2005 to 2015.

Black holes have never been directly observed, but the announcement on the first detection of gravitational waves earlier this month indirectly added to the evidence that black holes do actually exist.

The Japanese rocket, which was initially scheduled for liftoff last Friday but was postponed due to bad weather, was launched at 5:45pm (8:45am GMT or 2:15pm IST).

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