NASA’s IXPE Mission
- 13 Dec 2021
- 3 min read
Why in News
Recently, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new mission named Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE).
- IXPE observatory is a joint effort of NASA and the Italian Space Agency.
- It will study “the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.”
- Its primary length is two years and the observatory will be at 600 kilometers altitude, orbiting around Earth’s equator.
- It is expected to study about 40 celestial objects in its first year in space.
- It will complement other X-ray telescopes such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton.
- It will help observe polarized X-rays from neutron stars and supermassive black holes. By measuring the polarization of these X-rays, we can study where the light came from and understand the geometry and inner workings of the light source.
- It will help scientists understand how black holes spin and their location in the past.
- It will help unravel how pulsars shine so brightly in X-rays.
- It will help learn what powers the jets of energetic particles that are ejected from the region around the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.
- NASA’s Other Recent Missions:
- A supernova is an extremely powerful explosion that accompanies the death of a massive star.
- A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space.
- Gravitational waves are created when two black holes orbit each other and merge.
- Neutron stars comprise one of the possible evolutionary end-points of high mass stars.
- Once the core of the star has completely burned to iron, energy production stops and the core rapidly collapses, squeezing electrons and protons together to form neutrons and neutrinos.
- A star supported by neutron degeneracy pressure is known as a ‘neutron star’, which may be seen as a pulsar if its magnetic field is favourably aligned with its spin axis.