NASA’s X-ray Imaging Explorer, also known as Ixpe, has provided the first imaging data since completing its month-long start-up phase, the US space agency said earlier this week.
So far, all instruments are working well aboard the observatory, which seeks to study some of the most mysterious and extreme things in the universe. So The Ixpe Space Observatory initially focused its X-ray eyes on Cassiopeia A, an object made up of the remnants of a star that exploded in the 17th century.
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NASA explained that the shock waves from the explosion washed away the surrounding gas, heating it to high temperatures and accelerating cosmic ray particles to form a cloud that glows with X-ray light. To examine it in a new way.
In the image shared by the US space agency, the purple saturation corresponds to the intensity of the X-ray light observed by Ixpe superimposing high-energy X-ray data, shown in blue, from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Both monitors, with different types of detectors, capture different levels of angular resolution or sharpness.
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After Chandra’s launch in 1999, his first image was also of Cassiopeia A. X-ray images revealed, for the first time, that there is a compressed object at the center of the supernova remnant, which could be a black hole or a neutron. star.
According to Martin C. Weiskopf, principal investigator for Ixpe based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, The photo of Cassiopeia A taken by Ixpe is as historical as the one taken by Chandra at the time.. “It demonstrates Ixpe’s ability to obtain new, never-before-seen information on Cassiopeia A, which is currently under analysis.”
One of the main measurements scientists will make with Ixpe is called polarization, which is a way of looking at how X-ray light is directed as it travels through space. The polarization of light contains clues about the environment in which the light originated. The Ixpe instruments also measure the energy, time of arrival, and position in the sky of X-rays from cosmic sources.
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“The Ixpe image of Cassiopeia A is beautiful, and we look forward to analyzing the polarimetry data to learn more about the supernova remnant,” said Paolo Sovita, Italian principal investigator for IXPE at the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in Rome.
Using polarization data from Cassiopeia A, Ixpe will allow scientists to see, for the first time, how the amount of polarization varies in the supernova remnant, which is about 10 light-years across. The researchers are currently working on the data to create the first X-ray polarization map of the body. This will reveal new clues about how X-rays are produced in Cassiopeia A.
With information from NASA
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