NASA's New X-Ray Telescope Is Alive, And It's Going To Hunt For Black Holes

NASA has launched its Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite to study celestial bodies like black holes and neutron stars that emit X-rays. Outer space is eternally fascinating and the more scientists know about it, the more they realize just how much there is to be explored. Black holes are one such phenomenon that still intrigues researchers, and they'll be hoping that the latest mission will be able to answer some more of their questions regarding them.

The launch comes days after NASA debuted its newest asteroid monitoring system, Sentry-II, which is expected to better assess the impact risk associated with thousands of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). It also comes close on the heels of good news about the Hubble Space Telescope that finally returned to normal after being broken for over a month. All things considered, the past week has brought multiple good news for NASA and space enthusiasts around the world.

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The IXPE satellite was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that blasted off in the dead of the night on December 9th from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch went along expected lines, with the satellite entering its orbit around Earth’s equator at an altitude of approximately 372 miles (600 kilometers). In a press release on Thursday, NASA said that it is the first-ever satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, neutron stars, and other high-energy celestial objects. The agency expects the new mission to aid and complement the scientific discoveries of other X-ray telescopes, such as the Chandra X-ray observatory.

According to, the first celestial object that the IXPE will be studying is the Crab nebula, which is a supernova remnant in the Taurus constellation. The new equipment is expected to help measure the polarimetry of the light emitted by the dead star inside the nebula. By analyzing polarized cosmic X-rays with IXPE, scientists expect to learn more about the structure and behavior of celestial objects, their surrounding environments, and even the physics behind how the X-rays are emitted by these objects.

Scientists also believe that studying the polarization measurements might offer answers to several pertinent questions about the universe that still baffle them. They believe that the IXPE might be able to reveal more about the spin of a black hole, how pulsars inside nebulas emit light, and whether the established laws of physics on Earth hold true in the rest of the universe. However, while the IXPE may finally offer answers to some of these questions, it might take some time before that happens. According to IXPE’s principal investigator Dr. Martin Weisskopf, it might require "decades" of investigation before scientists are finally able to untangle some of the clues from the data collected by the satellite and its three telescopes.

Next: China To Investigate 'Mystery House' On The Dark Side Of The Moon

Source: NASA,

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