Japan’s latest X-ray telescope is officially dead

Illustration of ASTRO-H (Hitomi)

The orbiting X-ray observatory ASTRO-H (illustrated) is officially dead, the Japanese space agency JAXA reports. 


An X-ray space telescope that went silent last month has been officially declared dead. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, announced April 28 that it has stopped trying to communicate with the orbiting observatory ASTRO-H (aka Hitomi) and will now focus on figuring out what went wrong.

ASTRO-H launched on February 17 and seemed to be working fine until radio contact ceased on March 27. Several ground-based observatories have since reported seeing multiple pieces of debris where the telescope should have been. ASTRO-H carried instruments designed to detect X-rays from supernovas, galaxy clusters and debris spiraling around black holes. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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