The first spectacular image of the Ixpe telescope
1 July 2022
First spectacular image of the Ixpe telescope launched from Cape Canaveral on December 9, 2021, NASA’s space telescope IXPE (Imaging X-Ray Observatory Explorer), currently in orbit about 600km above the Earth’s equator, sent its first image to Earth after a month of commissioning. The IXPE, a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), aims to study the Universe by X-ray polarization. It uses three telescopes funded by ASI and equipped with detectors developed by a team of scientists from INFN and the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF).
This orbiting satellite first focused on Cassiopeia A, a remnant of a star that exploded in the 17th century. The magenta color saturation in the image corresponds to the intensity of this light, and it provides complementary information with the high-energy X-ray data (blue) collected by the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory.
With IXPE, we can observe the direction of X-rays as they pass through space and obtain important information to know the environment in which the light was born. It is also possible to measure the energy, arrival time, and position in the sky of X-rays from cosmic ray sources. This time, by obtaining the polarization data, we were able to clarify for the first time how the polarization of the entire supernova with a diameter of about ten light-years changed.
The first scientific image was taken by NASA’s newly launched X-ray spacecraft. The Imaging X-ray Galaxy Explorer (IXPE), launched on December 9, 2021, has a mission to observe objects such as black holes and neutron stars with X-rays and shed much-needed light on the inner mechanisms of the Universe.
IXPE has been preparing to check various systems in space for the first month and capture the first images, and now the IXPE team has released the first scientific images.