IXPE Mission – UPSC Prelims

IXPE Mission:
  • IXPE observatory is a joint effort of NASA and the Italian Space Agency.
  • Aim: To study the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.
  • Duration: The mission’s duration is 2 years.
  • Instruments used: IXPE carries three state-of-the-art space telescopes. Each of the three 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.
  • The 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.
  • Importance of the mission: 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?
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