Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE)

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Mains GS-III: Science & Technology
Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) Blog Image


Recently, a team of researchers has unveiled new light on the explosion of a star in a supernova which occurred more than 450 years ago by using Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer.

Why in news?

  • The explosion of a supernova which was named Tycho was visible to people on Earth in 1572, and the shock wave from the blast is still propagating through the cosmos.
  • Key facts about the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE)
  • IXPE is an international collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency.
  • It studies the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.
  • It is the first satellite dedicated to measuring polarized X-rays from objects, such as neutron stars and supermassive black holes, to reveal previously hidden details of the universe.

What is Tycho?

  • The Tycho supernova is classified as a Type Ia supernova, which occurs when a white dwarf star in a binary system shreds its companion star, capturing some of its mass and triggering an explosion. 
  • Tycho released as much energy as the Sun would emit over ten billion years and blasted particles out into space near the speed of light.
  • Researchers used IXPE to reveal the magnetic field geometry close to Tycho’s shock wave to investigate further how particles are accelerated there.


Q1) What is Polarimetry?

Polarimetry, a technique to measure the polarisation of light, is a powerful tool that allows astronomers to infer information about celestial objects, from passing comets to distant galaxies, that can not be obtained using other techniques

Source: NASA offers insight on supernova that may have been alluded to in ‘Hamlet’