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Infrared astronomical satellite "AKARI"

AKARI (credit: JAXA)

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.

Related site:AInfrared astronomical satellite "AKARI" (JAXA)

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Next-generation space infrared astronomy mission "SPICA"

SPICA (credit: JAXA/SPICA team)

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 2.5 m, and cooled to 8 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 late 2020s.

Our laboratory will be responsible to development of mid-infrared instrument, SMI, including interferometric measurements of the surface structure of the mirror in cooled temperature, as well as the operating tests of IR array detectors.

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

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Balloon experiments in India

Balloon telescope experiments

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 balloon flight has been carried out about once per year in Hyderabad in India. 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, and in 2009, the massive star-forming region RCW38 was observed. We have also developing the next generation spectrometer as well as a far-infrared detector for the balloon experiments.

Related web site: TATA Institute of Fundamental Research, Infrared and Optical Astronomy group

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Ground-based telescope "IRSF"

IRSF 1.4m telescope, experiments in the lab

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

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