Pegasus To Launch High-Energy X-Ray Observatory

By Michael Mecham .
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology .

Astronomers have floated X-ray detectors on balloons, launched them on sounding rockets and put them on satellites since the late 1950s to sweep the sky. The goal is to unravel the story of a violent universe, where black holes swallow light, neutron stars are born and stars the size of the Sun puff up as red giants only to collapse in death as white dwarfs. Since Earth's atmosphere absorbs X-rays, astronomers wanting to use them need to rise above it. Their work so far has concentrated on detecting low-energy X-rays; the high-energy field has been investigated only in wide-angle views. Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) want to capitalize on the ability of high-energy X-rays to penetrate the cosmic dust that obscures the hearts of galaxies, where unseen black holes may be hiding out. Give us sharp, clearly focused images and we'll give you exciting science, they promise ...

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