NASA is committing $188 million to build and launch a space telescope to observe patterns in the X-ray radiation emanating from black holes, neutron stars and pulsars.
The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, was chosen from a field of three finalists in NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program, the space agency said today.
IXPE’s triple-telescope detector system is designed to check the polarization of cosmic X-rays. Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director for NASA Headquarters’ Science Mission Directorate, said the mission should “open a new window on the universe for astronomers to peer through.”
“We cannot directly image what’s going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects,” Hertz said in a news release.
IXPE is due for launch in 2020.