Cosmic theory tested by Nasa .’s new black hole X-ray telescope

NASA is about to launch an exciting new telescopic spacecraft that can detect X-rays from black holes and teach us about how the Universe formed.

In the early hours of December 9, Nasa plans to blast its X-ray Polarizer Explorer (IXPE) onto the stars.


It is hoped the mission will teach us more about some of the most extreme objects in the Universe.

It aims to detect X-rays emitted by black holes and neutron stars.

The telescope will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

You can watch the launch live on Nasa’s website if you happen to wake up at 1 a.m. ET.

Nasa has teamed up with the Italian Space Agency on a spacecraft that actually contains three special telescopes that pick up X-rays.

Martin Weisskopf, principal investigator for IXPE, said in a statement: “The launch of IXPE marks a bold and unique step forward in X-ray astronomy.

“IXPE will tell us more about the exact nature of cosmic X-ray sources that we can learn by studying their luminosity and color spectrum.”

Scientists are interested in X-rays emitted by black holes because X-rays are full of signs of what made them.

Wavelengths of light are produced in extreme situations, and Nasa’s telescope hopes to determine what these situations are.

Example situations might be collisions between objects, explosions or extreme temperatures.

Scientists have to use space telescopes to detect these X-rays because Earth’s magnetic field prevents them from reaching the ground on our planet.

Polarized light from X-rays is also uniquely stamped with its source and what may have passed through it.

That means it’s like a unique fingerprint of what happened in that piece of space.

Weisskopf added: “IXPE will help us test and refine our theories about how the universe works.

“There may be more interesting answers ahead than we have hypothesized. Better yet, we can find a whole list of new questions to ask!

“This will be a breakthrough in the field of X-ray data collection.

“We will analyze the results for decades to come.”

This case contains the IXPE spacecraft that will be loaded onto a SpaceX rocket


This case contains the IXPE spacecraft that will be loaded onto a SpaceX rocketImage supplier: NASA / Kim Shiflett
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Caroline Bleakley

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