Science

NASA X-ray Observatory Reveals How Black Holes Gobble Up Stars

NASA X-ray Observatory Reveals How Black Holes Gobble Up Stars

The joint NASA-Italian space agency Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) peered deep into the hot gas surrounding the black hole, in observations that help us learn how black holes swallow and eject matter.

IXPE launched in December 2021 to study some of the most energetic objects in the universe, including accreting black holes, neutron stars and pulsars. It does this by observing the polarization of the X-rays emitted by these extreme objects. Polarization is the principle by which sunglasses work – they block all light except that which oscillates in a certain direction. Similarly, the polarized X-rays that IPXE detects are electromagnetic waves that vibrate mainly in a specific direction.





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