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SpaceX launches a NASA-funded black hole research telescope.3 min read


With NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite, the SpaceX Falcon 9 has lifted off. The IXPE is the first space telescope capable of detecting spin in X-rays from cosmic sources like black holes and neutron stars. It was initially revealed in 2017.

X-rays are high-energy light waves formed of electromagnetic radiation, and they’re quite abundant in space. Much of the light we see throughout the world is unpolarized, which implies it’s made up of electric and magnetic energy traveling in all directions. Polarized light, which has an electric and magnetic energy that all point in the same direction, is helpful because it may convey information about the magnetic fields and chemical composition of things with which it comes into contact.

Photo by Alex Andrews from Pexels

The 3 telescopes on the portable satellite can track and measure the direction, arrival time, energy, and polarization of light. When all of these instruments’ data is combined, NASA may create images that could help us better understand how strange astronomical objects like those that emit X-ray work. For example, they’re hoping it will give a more detailed view of the jets of material being ejected from black holes.

Black holes account for around 40% of the dark matter in the cosmos, but they were only recently able to capture one. The data IXPE will provide will assist scientists in determining whether black holes ever fed on their neighbors and make it easier for them to study the particles that surround these powerful objects. It’s also possible to map the inner edge of a black hole with x-ray polarization by measuring its angular momentum, or spin, in addition to doing so with other methods.

According to Sivakoff, the IXPE’s purpose may also provide a view into how galaxies develop. Supermassive black holes and neutron stars are the remnants of enormous stars that lived fast and died young; they’re like time capsules frozen in space. The mission could reveal how galaxies change over time.

The IXPE will assist scientists in gaining more understanding and expanding humanity’s knowledge of space. It might provide insights into why they spin and how they consume cosmic debris, but it may also lead to new discoveries. Martin Weisskopf, the mission’s principal investigator, stated during a press briefing: “IXPE will help us test and refine our theories about the most extreme objects in our universe, black holes, and neutron stars. We predict that IXPE will discover new phenomena in these objects and help us to understand the physics of extreme astrophysical environments.”

This launch used a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX. The first stage of the rocket is expected to land on the company’s drone ship “Just Read the Instructions” after transporting IXPE into space.

The mission to launch NASA’s IXPE satellite has been launched. This is the first space telescope capable of detecting spin in X-rays from cosmic sources like black holes and neutron stars, which are primarily found deep within galaxies that exist at the edge of the observable universe. The data can help us better understand how strange astronomical objects work, including their jets and properties. As a result of this research being so new, it may lead to discoveries previously unknown or undiscovered phenomena about these powerful astrophysical objects.

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