Indias first black hole space observation satellite to launch

Researchers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy been involved in the development of the first ever Indian satellite dedicated to astronomical observations, including of black holes, which will be launching from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in South-East India on Monday 28 September.

Astrosat, which will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is designed to make studies of the ultra-violet, optical, low and high-energy X-ray emission from celestial objects at the same time and will be particularly useful at measuring the time variability of compact sources such as neutron stars and black holes, including the supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

The Leicester team, led by Dr Gordon Stewart, has assembled a sensitive CCD camera for the Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) constructed by a team led by Professor K. P. Singh in TIFR, Mumbai who have also provided the data processing electronics.

Astrosat weighs almost 1.5 tonnes and will carry 4 co-aligned telescopes observing over a very broad range of the electro-magnetic spectrum from the visible, optical range through the far ultra-violet to high energy X-rays.

By studying the time and spectral dependence of the emission astronomers hope to gain a better understanding of the material around the black hole and how it is falling onto or being driven away from the massive object, making ‘black’ holes some of the brightest objects in the Universe.