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Astronomy

Astronomy

Astronomy is a natural science that involves the observation of the extraterrestrial. This field studies near-Earth objects and other astronomical phenomena to help find the answers to the origin of the universe, to understand our solar system and galaxy, and to discover the laws of matter. In astronomy, various imaging technologies are used, such as solar imaging and spectroscopy, to study the sun's activity and Earth's upper atmosphere where auroras occur, for example. Imaging technologies based on image sensors and cameras are utilized at telescopes around the world.

Astronomical observation with extremely large telescopes

Large telescopes are used to observe exoplanets and protoplanetary systems, to search for signs of life, and to study the nature of dark energy by directly measuring the universe's expansion.

Large telescopes such as the Subaru Telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the Keck Telescope, and the Gemini Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, the Alma Telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the Canary Large Telescope on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands have been installed in many parts of the world and continue to be used for observations.

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31)

Adaptive optics

Adaptive optics is a method where systems immediately correct the wavefront of incoming light which is disturbed by atmospheric fluctuations. This atmospheric turbulence can move the incoming light (think of stars twinkling) and therefore blur an image on a sensor. Adaptive optics allow astronomers to correct this and obtain the clearest image at the performance limit of the telescope. In order to perform real-time and highly accurate wavefront correction, a camera in this application must have high speed and high resolution. In addition, since the wavefront correction is performed in a very dark state using a laser artificial star, the camera also needs high sensitivity.

Wavefront correction by adaptive optics*

Adaptive optics

Comparison of adaptive optics*

Adaptive optics comparing

*Courtesy of Kodai Yamamoto, Ph.D., Department of Astronomy, Kyoto University

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ORCA-Fusion BT Digital CMOS camera

ORCA-Fusion BT digital CMOS camera

The ORCA-Fusion BT digital CMOS camera supports real-time wavefront correction with high-sensitivity, high-speed, and high-resolution images.

Solar imaging

The sun has a great effect on the Earth. Imaging and understanding solar activity, such as researching flare generations from sunspots and magnetic field movements, is becoming more important as we strive to understand the cause and effect between the Earth and the sun. In order to closely track the internal structure of the solar flare and its evolution over time, a detector that simultaneously achieves high resolution, high speed, and high dynamic range is required.

Solar imaging

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Digital CMOS camera ORCA-Lightning

ORCA-Lightning digital CMOS camera

The ORCA-Lightning digital CMOS camera captures a wide range of solar activity with high temporal resolution.

ORCA-Fusion BT Digital CMOS camera

ORCA-Fusion BT digital CMOS camera

The ORCA-Fusion BT digital CMOS camera observes sunspots at high speed and with a wide dynamic range.

Upper atmosphere imaging

The upper atmosphere is the atmosphere around 80 to 400 km high. This height corresponds to the boundary region between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. This part of the atmosphere is in a plasma state which is ionized. Due to the interaction between the plasma and the atmosphere, auroras are produced in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. During the night, a dim airglow is produced at this altitude. The dynamics of the upper atmosphere can be measured with a high-sensitivity, high-resolution, and high-speed camera.

High speed cameras installed at the aurora borealis observatory*

Ultra atmosphere imaging

Aurora imaging*

Aurora imaging

*Courtesy of Yoshizumi Miyoshi, Ph.D., Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE), Nagoya University

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Digital CMOS camera ORCA-Flash4.0 V3

ORCA-Flash4.0 V3 digital CMOS camera

The ORCA-Flash4.0 V3 digital CMOS camera captures auroras with high speed, high definition, and wide dynamic range.

Digital CMOS camera ORCA-Lightning

ORCA-Lightning digital CMOS camera

The ORCA-Lightning digital CMOS camera captures changes in the atmosphere over a wide range at high speed.

Our efforts for astronomy

Hamamatsu Photonics has been providing various products for the field of astronomy, such as image sensors for large telescopes and infrared detectors for astronomical satellites. Below are examples of our collaborations with the astronomical community.

Usage examples: CCD image sensors for the Prime Focus Camera of the Subaru Telescope

The Subaru Telescope is an extremely large telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. One of the world's most powerful telescopes, it is used to measure the history of cosmic expansion and dark energy, and it directly observes the distribution of dark matter.

Our CCD image sensor is used in the Prime Focus Camera for the Subaru Telescope. The CCD sensor has a unique, full-depletion structure and high sensitivity at long wavelengths, making it possible to observe at high resolution a wide range of faint objects that had been impossible to observe with conventional sensors.

Subaru telescope

HAMAMATSU's CCD image sensors are used in part of the Subaru Telescope.

Subaru Prime Focus Camera

The most distant galaxy found by the Subaru Telescope (located 12.91 billion light-years away from the Earth)

Subaru Prime Focus Camera

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