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Imaging X ray Polarimetry Explorer

SpaceX wins NASA contract for launching black hole and neutron star research spacecraft

Elon Musk’s SpaceX obtained its sixth contracted mission under National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of estimated cost $50.3 million to launch Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE using the First stage booster on a board of Falcon 9 rocket. This explorer space shuttle will investigate the polarized (limited to a single plane) cosmic rays coming from surrounding sources like neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes.

This research spacecraft will give a more clear perception of the universe around black holes, neutron stars and a pulsar (remains of an exploded star) that we can’t see. It will help to discover the beginning and destiny of universe and various unknown facts behind black holes and neutron stars.

The IXPE on a board of Falcon 9 rocket will fly into a completely unusual 335-mile-high (540-kilometre) equatorial orbital range with 0-degree inclination. This will reduce its risk to cosmic radiation in the South Atlantic Anomaly where Van Allen radiation belt is closest to earth.

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement that SpaceX’s having its sixth contracted mission from NASA’s i.e. IXPE tells that NASA now has faith on SpaceX for placing crucial science payloads in orbit.

Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) comprises of three similar space telescopes with sense detection methodology which will measure the polarisation of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.

The launch is supposed to take place on April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Centre in Florida. The total cost for the contract is around $50.3million (£39million). It will cost much less than the SpaceX mission to launch Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission whose cost was around $69 million because of the previously used First Stage Booster.


SpaceX has previously completed 74 Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy missions, including two for NASA’s Launch Services Program, Jason-3 and TESS. Besides IXPE mission, SpaceX’s future launch demonstrate includes NASA’s LSP missions SWOT, Sentinel-6A, and DART.

zoomy pulsar star

Star found moving through the milky way at a speed of 2.5 million mph

Researchers announced a mind-blowing discovery on March 19 at the High Energy Astrophysics Division meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Monterey, California. They have spotted a super fast moving pulsar from low Earth orbit with NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and using the Karl G. Jansky Array in New Mexico.

Named as PSR J0002+6216 (preferably “zoomy”) this speedy star is a type of neutron star called a pulsar. A neutron star is the disintegrated core of a star below a certain mass and load after it has gone supernova.

In turn, pulsars are highly magnetized neutron stars with an extraordinarily fast spin rate, which emit jets of electromagnetic radiation as they spin. If these jets manage to line up correctly in order, so that the radiation flashes at Earth, we will be able to see it – like a giant cosmic lighthouse.

This pulsar is about 6,500 light-years (1,992 parsecs) away in the constellation of Cassiopeia, is about 53 light-years from the center of a bubble-shaped supernova remnant called CTB 1.

It’s traveling at 1,130 kilometers per second (700 miles per second). That could take it from Earth to the Moon in 6 minutes. It’s one of the fastest stars we’ve ever seen.

It is spectacularly zooming away from the expanding cloud of a recent supernova explosion, leaving a trail behind after it.  It had managed to punch through the explosion’s outer shell of debris. It’s moving at an agile and brisk speed being so fast that it will eventually be able to escape the Milky Way and continue speeding its way through intergalactic space.

Certain instabilities in the collapsing star could create a region of slow-moving matter that gravitationally pulls the neutron star towards it, creating the acceleration. So far the star seems to be consistent with this although additional observation is required.

It is indeed an amazing discovery because it could help astronomers understand the dynamics and the physics behind the theory that is able to launch these stars into space at such tremendous speeds.