Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 February 18
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Hitomi Launches
Image Credit & Copyright: F. Scott Porter (NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center)

Explanation: On February 17 at 5:45pm JST this H-IIA rocket blasted skyward from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center located off the southern coast of Japan, planet Earth. Onboard was the ASTRO-H X-ray astronomy satellite, now in orbit. Designed to explore the extreme cosmos from black holes to massive galaxy clusters, the satellite observatory is equipped with four cutting-edge X-ray telescopes and instruments sensitive to photon energies from 300 to 600,000 electron volts. By comparison, visible light photon energies are 2 to 3 electron volts. Following a tradition of renaming satellites after their successful launch, ASTRO-H has been newly dubbed "Hitomi", inspired by an ancient legend of dragons. Hitomi means "the pupil of the eye".

Tomorrow's picture: ancient camel-leopard

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