NASA’s new IXPE telescope “will show us the violent universe around us”


NASA’s new X-ray space telescope, called IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer), was launched Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket.

This is a joint mission with the Italian Space Agency, aimed for the first time to measure the polarization of X-rays from the most extreme and mysterious astrophysical objects in the universe, such as the remnants of supernova explosions, supermassive black holes, the active galactic nuclei (quasars), the rotating neutron stars (pulsars), the stars with a very strong magnetic field (magnets) etc.

As Thomas Zerbuchen, NASA Deputy Director of Science Missions, said, “ICHRE is going to show us the violent universe around us, such as exploding stars and black holes in the center of galaxies, in ways we have never been able to. let’s see “.

The $ 188 million observatory, which orbited at an altitude of about 600 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and will start operating normally in January 2022, features three state-of-the-art telescopes with Italian-made polarimetry detectors that measure polarization of invisible X-rays. Polarization is a property of light that provides indications of the origin of light from various cosmic sources, providing information that other wavelengths such as visible or infrared light cannot provide. It was preceded by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Space Telescope and the European Space Agency (ESA) XMM-Newton, both of which were launched in 1999.

This will be followed by the launch of the long-awaited and very expensive James Webb Space Telescope, costing $ 9.7 billion and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which is scheduled for December 22 after several .

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