NASA is launching a new state-of-the-art mission this week that seeks to unlock some of our galaxy’s biggest mysteries.
Some of the universe’s big mysteries will be investigated using new “groundbreaking” technology, as NASA launches its latest satellite this week.
Working closely with the Italian Space Agency, NASA announced that its X-ray-observing mission will launch on Friday (AEDT), and aims to hand astronomers an important new tool for studying energetic objects in the universe .
“The launch of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) is a bold and unique step forward in X-ray astronomy,” IXPE principal investigator Dr. Martin Weisskopf said in a statement.
“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.”
How does X-ray technology work?
The satellite will specifically measure the polarization of X-rays from various cosmic sources.
They are an often overlooked aspect of space research.
The satellite’s gaze on the universe includes sensitive polarization detectors, which were made in Italy. Telescopes will observe the X-rays and feed them into detectors, which can capture the images and measure their polarization.
Incredibly, scientists have found the polarized light bears the unique seal of its source and can be used to track objects that have passed through it. While regular waves of light can vibrate in any direction, polarized light vibrates only in one direction.
The development marks a major leap forward in scientists’ ongoing mission to understand the vast depths of the Milky Way.
“The team will continue to work on developing and testing changes to the instrument software that will allow them to conduct science operations in the future even when they encounter many lost synchronization messages,” Dr. Weisskopf said.
“This is going to be unprecedented in terms of X-ray data acquisition. We will be analyzing the results for decades to come.”
According to CNN, the technology could also help scientists reveal new answers to fundamental questions about physics.
“IXPE will help us test and refine our theories of how the universe works,” Dr. Weiskopf said. “There may be even more exciting answers ahead than we envisaged. Better yet, we may have a full list of new questions to ask.”
Black holes made easy to detect
IXPE will also be used to better detect the remains of exploding stars such as black holes and neutron stars.
The mission comes as ANU astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker detected 35 more colliding black holes in our observable universe, bringing the total to 90 since they were first discovered in 2015.
“Now, when small black holes collide, they generate gravitational ripples through space and very sensitive lasers and mirrors on Earth can sense this very slight change,” he told Sky News Australia last month. Was.
Dr Tucker said these mirrors helped discover black holes scientists “couldn’t see before”.
He said that Australian scientists in particular are getting better at identifying black holes and “putting together a picture of the black hole family”.
black hole on collision course
New findings also found Earth’s Closet black holes are on a collision course, and potentially form a supermassive black hole. Fortunately for life on Earth, the two regions of space are 89 million light-years apart.
Despite the vast distance, they are still the closest black holes to Earth and their proximity indicates that they are moving towards each other and will collide and merge – forming a supermassive black hole.
The last largest supermassive black hole pair has been found 470 million light-years away from Earth.
Astronomer Dr Karina Vogel of Strasbourg Observatory in France said there is valuable information that can be learned by observing celestial objects.
“The system contains the two closest supermassive black holes ever discovered.
“One of these massive black holes is at the center of the galaxy where we would normally expect them to,” she said. newsweek,
“The second black hole is not at the center, but is slightly offset from it. We have never found a supermassive black hole pair at such a short distance from each other.”