A new mission from NASA called the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) would be used to find out more data about black holes. Since their discovery back in the 1970s, these enigmatic celestial bodies have triggered scientists who have studied them trying to determine their formation. Black holes have such a powerful gravitational pull that not even light can penetrate within them.
On January 4th, NASA announced the set off of their new mission in a struggle to reveal what lies at the cornerstone of black holes’ formation and what do these astronomical object hide behind their horizons. The new mission known as the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer will make use of three telescopes outfitted with cameras able to establish the polarization of high-energy X-ray radiation which is usually discharged by the hot gas that surrounds black holes.
Paul Hertz, the director of the astrophysics division for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, has stated that analyzing the polarization of X-rays may unveil the physics which lies behind these astronomical objects. He also argued that NASA has launched several observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program. Every one of them had specific observational capabilities.
The new IXPE project is meant to reveal a fresh view of the universe. Astronomers hope that they will make an incredible discovery. The mission is bound to launch in 2020, and its costs were estimated at $188 million. This amount of money will also be used to cover the cost of the launch vehicle, data analysis, and post-launch operations.
Apparently, previous information shared by NASA unveiled that the mission might last from two to three years. The space agency declared that their Astrophysics Explorers Program required new proposals back in September 2014. At that time, there were submitted about 14 proposals for new missions. Only three of them were selected.
The IXPE mission is the only one which has as a primary purpose the study of black holes. The EVENT Horizon Telescope project is bound to examine Sagittarius A, the massive black hole located at the center of the Milky Way. This project involves the use of nine radio telescopes. If this project brings positive outcomes, then it will also provide a test for the theory of relativity formulated by Einstein.
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