Universe of Spectroscopy

Author: Aya Bamba

What would you like to introduce to readers in this series?

It is said that only low-mass atoms such as hydrogen and helium existed 13.7 billion years ago when the Universe was born. Now, however, we are surrounded by various atoms such as carbon, oxygen, calcium, and also iron and gold. It is thought that various worlds would be created by atoms scattered by explosions of stars at the end of their life. "What kinds of atoms?" "How are atoms scattered and in what quantity?" Research into these questions is beginning right now. The "SUZAKU," Japan's fifth X-ray astronomical satellite, is also at the forefront of global research.

I think the phrase "X-ray Astronomy" is unfamiliar to many people. Light radiated by some stars becomes X-ray, which is higher energy and shorter wavelength than visible light because the stars have high temperature and high energy. Remains of stellar explosions shine very brightly in X-ray for the reason that the velocity of shockwaves is fast (about 3000km/sec) and the temperature rises to anywhere from several million to several tens of millions degrees. An X-ray astronomical satellite like "SUZAKU" plays an active role in this research field.

"SUZAKU" found chrome and manganese that are rare metals, a hot topic here on the Earth. It also showed the world's first case of how many atoms are created in the stars, and how many of them are scattered to the Universe. I wanted to introduce the efforts of the "SUZAKU" satellite, whose world-class accomplishments are unfamiliar to you.

My research field and current interests:

The death of a star not only provides atoms to the Universe, it plays various roles in the Universe's development, such as by providing heat energy and random flows, and creating cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are a type of natural radiation. People get more radiation on aircraft, because on planes we are exposed to cosmic rays. Using X-ray astronomical satellite including "SUZAKU," I have continued to research how this radiation is created and radiated into Space by substances coming from supernovae.

Moreover, in looking toward the future, I am taking part in the development of the Japanese next-generation X-ray astronomical satellite ASTRO-H, and I am also working toward launching the satellite. A spectrometer, Soft X-ray Spectrometer (SXS), which will be mounted on the ASTRO-H is the dream spectrograph for X-ray astronomers. The ASTRO-H with SXS is the satellite that for many years, astronomers around the world have been waiting for. I am looking forward to the results from whatever celestial objects the satellite observes and finding out what we can see after launch.


Aya Bamba
Department of Physics and Mathematics, College of Science and Engineering, Aoyama Gakuin University
Job Title
Associate Professor
Field of Expertise
High-energy astrophysics