A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite. First announced in 2017, IXPE is the first satellite capable of measuring the polarization of X-rays that come from cosmic sources, such as black holes and stars. Neutron, according to an engadged technical report.
The refrigerator-sized satellite contains three telescopes that can track and measure direction, time of arrival, energy and polarization of light, and when data from all of these telescopes are combined, NASA can create images that can give us more knowledge about how mysterious celestial bodies – those that emit rays – work. X-rays, for example, they hope will give us a more comprehensive look at the structure of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant with a rapidly rotating neutron star in its center.
By observing black holes, IXPE will help scientists gain more insight and expand humanity’s knowledge of regions of space we still barely know, and could provide clues about why they rotate and how they gobble up cosmic matter, although it could also lead to new discoveries.
“IXPE will help us test and refine our current theories about how the universe works, so that we may discover more exciting theories about these strange things than we have assumed,” Martin Weisskopf, the mission’s principal investigator, said during a briefing.
SpaceX used a Falcon 9 rocket from a previous mission for this launch, and if all goes well, the first stage of the rocket will land on the company’s unmanned ship “just read the instructions” after the IXPE is flown into space.
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