From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : IXPE
Mains level : Not Much
NASA has launched a new mission named Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer or IXPE.
- IXPE observatory is a joint effort of NASA and the Italian Space Agency.
- The mission will study “the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.”
- The mission’s primary length is two years and the observatory will be at 600 kilometers altitude, orbiting around Earth’s equator.
- IXPE is expected to study about 40 celestial objects in its first year in space.
What are the instruments onboard?
- IXPE carries three state-of-the-art space telescopes.
- Each of the three identical telescopes hosts one light-weight X-ray mirror and one detector unit.
- These 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.
- This new mission will complement other X-ray telescopes such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton.
Why is it important?
The mission will help scientists answer questions such as:
- How do black holes spin?
- Was the black hole at the center of the Milky Way actively feeding on surrounding material in the past?
- How do pulsars shine so brightly in X-rays?
- What powers the jets of energetic particles that are ejected from the region around the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies?