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The X-ray Telescope

X-rays can't be focused using conventional mirrors or lenses. Depending on their energy, X-rays either pass right through or are absorbed by such materials. However, X-rays can be focused if they strike a metal surface at a shallow angle. Suzaku uses two such "grazing incidence" reflections to focus X-rays.

X-rays are reflected off pieces of thin aluminum that are coated with gold. Each of these reflectors is shaped like a section of a cone. This means that each reflector is roughly rectangular in shape, but it is curved along its length. . The reflectors are 10 cm wide, and range in length from about 9 cm to about 29 cm. Incoming X-rays strike the mirror along its width. The reflectors are assembled to form a completed mirror. The reflectors are arranged in the mirror concentrically, about 170 deep. Each mirror consists of about 1350 reflectors, is about 40 cm in diameter, and has a mass of about 19 kg.

Suzaku carries 5 X-ray mirror assemblies, one for the XRS, and four for the X-ray Imaging Spectrometers.

A cross section of a portion of an Suzaku mirror. Lines show the path of photons passing through a precollomator, and then off the primary and secondary reflectors.

One of the Suzaku reflectors.
(Click for larger view)

Mirror Assembly
A portion of the completed X-ray mirror. Click for a video clip of Curtis Odell showing the arrangement of the reflectors (or foils) in the mirror.
One of the five Suzaku mirrors.
One of the five Suzaku mirrors. X-rays pass through this mirror from the top through to the bottom.
(Click for larger view.)

Publication Date: June 2005

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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