Albeit there hasn’t been the easiest way to study black holes, NASA is launching a new mission to study the high-energy X-ray radiation surrounding black holes, neutron stars and pulsars using a trio of highly specialized telescopes.
The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission will launch in 2020 and will learn about the gravitational, magnetic and electric fields at the edges of this cosmic wonder.
The telescopes, contributed by the Italian Space Agency, are equipped with polarization sensitive X-ray detectors. Those are able to measure the cosmic X-rays, providing the scientist’s new understandings into black holes, pulsars, and neutron stars.
“We cannot directly image what’s going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars,” Paul Hertz, a director with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington said, “but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects.”
$188 million cost
NASA expects the entire mission to cost $188 million including the cost of the launch vehicle. Colorado-based Ball Aerospace is providing the spacecraft. IXPE mission is the part of NASA’s Astrophysics Explorer’s Program, which receives proposals from outsiders for new missions and has led to the development in the study of everything, starting from Earth’s atmosphere to cosmic background radiation.