NASA's explorer helps unlock secrets of exploded star

2022-10-20 Xinhua Editor:Li Yan

For the first time, astronomers have measured and mapped polarized X-rays from the remains of an exploded star, using NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), the agency said on Tuesday.

The findings, which come from observations of a stellar remnant called Cassiopeia A, shed new light on the nature of young supernova remnants, according to NASA.

Launched on Dec. 9, 2021, IXPE is a collaboration project between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. It is the first satellite that can measure the polarization of X-ray light with this level of sensitivity and clarity.

Cassiopeia A was the first object IXPE observed after it began collecting data.

"Without IXPE, we have been missing crucial information about objects like Cassiopeia A," said Pat Slane at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard &Smithsonian, who leads the IXPE investigations of supernova remnants.

"This result is teaching us about a fundamental aspect of the debris from this exploded star -- the behavior of its magnetic fields," he said. 

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