They’re a staple of science fiction, and a new NASA mission aims to search out the monstrous black holes hiding across the universe.
The space telescope mission is set to launch in 2020 and study huge black holes, pulsars and neutron stars. The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission. Space reports the mission will use a trio of telescopes to measure the polarization of X-rays, which are created when black holes heat up gases in their vicinity. As we work to better understand the universe around us, mapping and tracking larger and more distant black holes is a critical window into how the wilder side of science works.
"We cannot directly image what's going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects,” Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
The mission is expected to cost around $188 million, and will be run out of the space agency’s Astrophysics Explorers program. It’ll be managed from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Hey, if we ever want to figure out how to manipulate these things for interdimensional travel, the work starts now.