High-energy astrophysics studies X-ray and gamma-ray photons, which are produced in some of the most extreme conditions in the universe: temperatures of millions of degrees, high magnetic fields, extreme gravity, or massive explosions. MKI has a long successful history of high-energy astrophysics research spanning a wide range of topics and scales from planets to stars to the largest cluster of galaxies.
MKI has been and continues to be involved in instrumentation for a variety of space-based high-energy astrophysics missions including the Advanced CCD imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) and High-Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer (HETGS) on NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the X-ray Imaging Spectrometer on the Japanese Suzaku spacecraft. MKI provides support to both the Chandra and Suzaku missions through instrument calibration, software development, and observer support. Continuing detector development from the CCD Lab promises to lead to improvements over current instruments, such as faster readouts and better radiation tolerance. Work on optics and diffraction gratings at the Space Nanotechnology Lab will provide much higher diffraction efficiency and spectral resolution than previous technology.