Theory of the universe to be tested by Nasa’s new black hole X-ray telescope

NASA is about to launch an exciting new telescope 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 Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) up into the stars.

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

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

The telescope will launch from the 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 be awake at 1am ET.

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


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

“IXPE will tell us more about the precise nature of cosmic X-ray sources than we can learn by studying their brightness and color spectrum alone.”

Scientists are interested in X-rays emitted by black holes because X-rays are full of signatures that indicate what created them.

The wavelengths of light are created in extreme situations and Nasa’s telescope hopes to determine what these situations were.

Example situations could 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 has happened in that part of space.

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

“There may be even more exciting answers ahead than the ones we’ve hypothesized. Better yet, we may find whole lists of new questions to ask!

“This is going to be groundbreaking in terms of X-ray data acquisition.

“We’ll be analyzing the results for decades to come.”

NASA/ Kim ShiflettThis pod contains the IXPE spacecraft that will be loaded onto a SpaceX rocket[/caption]

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