Expanding the X-ray View of the Universe

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) exploits the polarization state of light from astrophysical sources to provide insight into our understanding of X-ray production in objects such as neutron stars and pulsar wind nebulae, as well as stellar and supermassive black holes. Technical and science objectives include:

  • improving polarization sensitivity by two orders of magnitude over the X-ray polarimeter aboard the Orbiting Solar Observatory OSO-8 (scientists see HEASARC: Observatories),
  • providing simultaneous spectral, spatial, and temporal measurements,
  • determining the geometry and the emission mechanism of Active Galactic Nuclei and microquasars,
  • finding the magnetic field configuration in magnetars and determining the magnitude of the field,
  • finding the mechanism for X ray production in pulsars (both isolated and accreting) and the geometry,
  • determining how particles are accelerated in Pulsar Wind Nebulae.

astro image example This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows a jet emanating from the central, supermassive black hole of Centaurus A. The colors in this image represent the energy of the detected X rays, with red for low, green for middle, and blue representing high-energy X rays. Astrophysical objects like this one, are good candidates for observations of polarization that will give us information about the object's magnetic field and its configuration. For more information on this image, you may visit the Chandra X-ray Observatory's website.

+ NASA Privacy, Security, Notices    Last Updated: January 30, 2017   Author/Curator: Mitzi Adams, mitzi.adams @ nasa.gov