Galaxy Zoo gets observing time: the high-energy universe as seen by the `Red Bird'
Galaxy Zoo gets more observing time! As we explained before, getting observing time can be very difficult, especially on the most powerful telescopes on earth and in space. We were therefore very pleased when NASA posted the results of it’s Cycle 4 Announcement of Opportunity to use the Suzaku X-ray space telescope and we spotted a familiar target….
Those of you who have been following our quest to understand what `Hanny’s Voorwerp’ really is might recognise this – IC 2497 is the massive spiral galaxy next to the Voorwerp. We’ve already been successful in getting time on XMM-Newton, another X-ray space telescope, to get a good look at what IC 2497’s supermassive black hole is doing. With Suzaku, we’ll be able to peer even deeper into its murky hear. Suzaku is a Japanese-led hard X-ray space telescope, which can see photons with even higher energy than XMM-Newton, photons to energetic that pretty much nothing can block their way out. Thus, if there really is a currently feeding supermassive black hole in IC 2497, we’ll be able to see it.
Suzaku began life as ASTRO-E, and was launched by the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) back in 2005. It was named Suzaku, or ‘red bird’, for a number of reasons. Very early on in its mission though, it experienced a mysterious malfunction, which caused the Helium that was cooling its main instrument to leak into space, which effectively made it useless. It still has its other instruments, which are sensitive like no other right now to the high energy universe, and sometime in the next year or so, it will have a 75,000 second peak at IC 2497…!