Infrared astronomical satellite "AKARI"

AKARI was successfully launched on February 22 (JST) in 2006. The full science operation began on May 8 in 2006 after the period of its performance verification. The far- and mid-infrared observations, including the all-sky survey, finished on August 26 in 2007 when all the liquid Helium to cool the instruments was exhausted. AKARI continued near-infrared observations using the mechanical cooler after the depletion of the liquid Helium. The operation officially ended on November 24 in 2011. We played a central and critical role in developing the Far Infrared Surveyor (FIR) here in Nagoya University.
In addition to the all-sky survey as a primary purpose of the mission, targeted observations have been extensively performed with AKARI. Those data are archived and available to the public after a proprietary period of one year. This means that all the data are now available and anyone can make use of the AKARI data for any type of research. It is no doubt that valuable scientific studies can be done using such archived data, thus we have utilized them to work on a variety of research projects. In our laboratory, students who are interested in the AKARI data can learn the whole process from the data retrieval, reduction, and analysis to the final stage of putting together a paper.

Research topics

  • Understanding the cycling of material in our Galaxy
  • Investigation of the interstellar matter and its evolution in nearby galaxies
  • Revealing the process of planet formation
  • Exploration of dust-embedded Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)

Related web site: Infrared astronomical satellite "AKARI" (JAXA)

Next-generation space infrared astronomy mission "SPICA"

SPICA is a next-generation, infrared astronomy satellite to understand the physical and chemical process of formation and evolution of various objects like galaxies, stars, and planets. SPICA is expected to unravel the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy on the basis of the achievement by AKARI all-sky survey. In the current plan, the telescope has an aperture of 3.2 m, and cooled to 4.5 kelvin, which will enable us to perform observations with the superb sensitivity that is higher than ever reached before in mid- and far-infrared. The project team aims to launch SPICA in around 2020.
Our laboratory will be responsible to optical tests for the silicon-carbide (SiC) telescope mirror on board SPICA. The test would include interferometric measurements of the surface structure of the SiC mirror in cooled temperature, which is the necessary step to prepare for the SPICA optical experiments in ultralow temperature. We will also be involved in the development of the SPICA coronagraph, SCI.

Related web site: The Next-Generation Infrared Astronomy Mission "SPICA"

Research topics

  • Developing new methods of optical experiments under ultralow temperature
  • Building the SPICA instrument (SCI)
  • Fabrication of the electronic circuit to operate the mid-infrared detector
  • Developing new far-infrared detector

Balloon experiments in India

Our laboratory has been conducting the balloon experiments in collaboration with ISAS/JAXA and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India (hereafter TIFR). The purpose of this experiment is to perform high angular resolution observations in far-infrared using the fabry-perot spectrometer (hereafter FPS) developed in ISAS, that were installed in the balloon-borne, 1-m telescope constructed by the Indian group. More specifically, the physical condition in the star-forming regions in our Milky Way galaxy are investigated by detecting emission from the ionized atomic carbon, [CII] fine-structure line at 157.74 micron.
The first flight for the spectroscopy was made in 1999, and the far-infrared data were obtained for a wide region of Orion-A. The second flight was successfully performed in 2001, with the observations of Orion-A (M42、M43), Orion-B (NGC2024), and W3 regions. In 2008, the 6th flight was made and successful.
The FPS has now been developed to have a capability to detect [SiII] line at 35 micron. The new FPS will be mounted on the new 1.3-m telescope by TIFR for furture balloon observations.

Related web site:TATA Institute of Fundamental Research

Research topics

  • Development of new fabry-perot spectrometer

Ground-based telescope "IRSF"

IRSF is a ground-based telescope with an aperture of 1.4 m located at Sutherland, South Africa. There are two major instruments: SIRIUS for simultaneous, three-bands imager in near-infrared and SIRPOL for near-infrared polarimetry. Those are powerful instruments to make wide-field observations of the Milky Way Galaxy as well as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
Our laboratory has been working on the development of a new spectrometer for IRSF 1.4-m telescope. The advantage of this spectrometer is to simultaneously obtain the spectra both in optical (visible) and near-infrared, and such wide wavelength coverage is critical to understand the detailed physical condition for various astronomical objects. We plan to have the first light within a few years. Not only developing the new instrument, we also use the data already obtained with IRSF for scientific research. For example, the data with narrow-band filters are utilized to derive the abundance distribution in supernova remnants as well as galaxies.

Related web site: IRSF -- Infrared Survey Facility

Research topics

  • Developing a new spectrometer
  • Observations using narrow band filters