Tech UPTechnologyThe first image from NASA's latest X-ray telescope is...

The first image from NASA's latest X-ray telescope is impressive

Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer, IXPE, was launched into low Earth orbit, over the equator, from a SpaceX Falcon 9 last December.


The first scientific image of IXPE

Now, having spent all this time calibrating its instruments and preparing to observe a supernova remnant in the constellation of Cassiopeia, NASA reports that the telescope has sent its first image to Earth and shows the remains of Cassiopeia A, a star that exploded in the 17th century. The results are spectacular .

Thanks to the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer, IXPE , we see how in Cassiopeia A the saturation of the magenta color corresponds to the intensity of the X-ray light. energy from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Both observatories capture different levels of angular resolution or sharpness, giving astronomers and astrophysicists greater levels of detail to better explore these unusual phenomena in the cosmos.

Cassiopeia A was also the first science image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory which was released in 1999. This choice is because it is one of the brightest X-ray objects in this constellation. Cassiopeia A’s explosion sent shock waves outward, heating surrounding gases and accelerating cosmic ray particles (high-speed electrons and atomic nuclei) to create a cloud of varied matter, according to a NASA statement. This cloud is the one that shines intensely in the light of the X-rays captured by IXPE (and whose image we cannot fail to describe as spectacular).

“The IXPE image of Cassiopeia A is gorgeous , and we look forward to analyzing the polarimetry data to learn even more about this supernova remnant,” said Paolo Soffitta, Italian IXPE Principal Investigator at the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Rome. .



Although Cassiopeia A (which is about 10 light-years in diameter, which is more than twice the distance between Earth and our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri) has been observed and studied by many other telescopes, such as the one we have mentioned, NASA says that the IXPE would allow researchers to examine it in another way. To begin with, the X-ray telescope is located at an altitude of about 600 kilometers and is observing the object that is 11,000 light-years from Earth .


It looks like this?

As many of our readers will already know, even though we see Cassiopeia A with this striking magenta color, almost neon, in visible light it doesn’t look like that, but X-ray radiation is a very interesting tool for scientists. and, the more saturated the color, the more intense the X-ray light will be.

In this case, supernovae are full of magnetic energy and accelerate particles to almost the speed of light, making them more than ideal laboratories for studying extreme physics in space.

“Future polarization images of IXPE should reveal the mechanisms at the heart of this famous cosmic accelerator,” said Roger Romani, IXPE co-investigator at Stanford University in California, USA. “To fill in some of those details, we have developed a way to make the IXPE measurements even more precise using machine learning techniques . We look forward to what we will find as we analyze all the data .”

Cassiopeia A is the first of about 40 objects that NASA will study during the first year of IXPE’s life. In addition to exploring supernovae, the mission could answer questions about objects like black holes, including how they spin and whether the black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy (Sagittarius A*) fed at some point in material history. surrounding.



Reference: NASA

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