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ISRO successfully launches maiden XPoSat to study black holes, neutron stars

ISRO XPoSat launch

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) marked a significant milestone on Monday with the successful launch of XPoSat, the nation’s first dedicated X-ray Polarimeter Satellite, aboard the PSLV-C58. The launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre initiated a new era in understanding the cosmos through X-ray polarization.

“XPoSat (X-ray Polarimeter Satellite) is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission to study various dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions,” the space agency wrote in a blog. The X-ray Polarimeter Satellite, placed into a low Earth orbit, is designed to investigate the polarization of intense X-ray sources in space. XPoSat’s unique mission is to unravel the mysteries of various astronomical X-ray sources like black holes, neutron stars, and active galactic nuclei, which have long puzzled scientists.

XPoSat carries two primary payloads: POLIX and XSPECT. POLIX, developed by the Raman Research Institute, is an X-ray Polarimeter for observations in the 8-30 keV energy band. It utilizes anisotropic Thomson scattering to measure the degree and angle of polarization of X-ray photons. This payload is expected to observe about 40 astronomical sources during its five-year mission.

XSPECT, designed by the Space Astronomy Group of URSC, focuses on X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing. It aims to provide detailed spectral and temporal studies of cosmic X-ray sources in the 0.8-15 keV energy band. This payload will complement POLIX by offering long-term monitoring of spectral changes and soft X-ray emissions, thereby enriching our understanding of the dynamics in space.

XPoSat’s mission is not just a technological achievement but also a leap forward in cosmic exploration. By combining polarization measurements with spectroscopic data, XPoSat aims to break the theoretical deadlock in understanding the emission processes of astronomical sources. These insights are crucial for advancing our knowledge of the universe’s most enigmatic and energetic phenomena.

Calling the launch a great start to the new year 2024, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among several other notable figures, thanked and wished ISRO scientists. “This launch is wonderful news for the space sector and will enhance India’s prowess in this field. Best wishes to our scientists at @isro and the entire space fraternity in taking India to unprecedented heights,” PM Modi wrote on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).

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