NASA ‘groundbreaking’ mission uses X-rays to unlock secret nature of black holes
Scientists at NASA have launched a new satellite with the hope that it will teach us more about black holes – and it did so two days earlier than planned.
Called the X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer mission, it will measure the radiation from dense pits of gravity in the distance.
It launched earlier this morning from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, on a Falcon 9 rocket ship.
It will be the first observatory in space of its kind, and will attempt to look for, and figure out the polarisation of X-rays from black holes.
It will also look at neutron stars through three identical telescopes on the satellite.
Dr Martin Weisskopf, who works for NASA as IXPE's principal investigator, said: “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.
“This is going to be groundbreaking in terms of X-ray data acquisition. We’ll be analysing the results for decades to come”.
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According to Space.com, the satellites first target will be the Crab nebula – which is the remnant of a dead star.
The rocket used to launch the item into space was actually one of the first pre-used Falcon X rockets to go back into space.
The pre-dawn flight marks the 131st overall flight of Falcon 9, and the 28th rocket to be launched just this year.
Falcon 9 confirmed that the launch was successful, and that the rocket boosters, which can be re-used, had reached the first stage of its trip – landing on one of the company's three massive drone ships, which serves as floating landing pads in the Atlantic Ocean to catch the booster and haul it back to port to fly again.
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