China launches 1st X-ray Space Telescope to study black holes

Jun 16, 2017 13:03 IST

China on 15 June 2017 successfully launched its first X-ray Space Telescope named 'Insight' to study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts.

This Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) was carried into orbit by Long March-4B rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China's Gobi Desert.


China launches 1st X-ray Space Telescope to study black holes

Highlights of the X-ray Space Telescope 'Insight'

The 2.5-tonne telescope will allow Chinese scientists to observe magnetic fields and the interiors of pulsars and better understand the evolution of black holes.

It will also help scientists to search for gamma-ray bursts corresponding to gravitational waves and study how to pulsars can be used for spacecraft navigation.

Insight is more capable of finding black holes and neutron stars that emit bright X-rays than other space telescopes as it has a larger detection area and a broader energy range which makes it easier to scan the galaxy.

The HXMT carries three x-ray telescopes observing at energies ranging from 20 to 200 kilo-electron volts as well as an instrument to monitor the space environment.

While orbiting 550 kilometres above the planet over an expected operating lifetime of 4 years, the HXMT will perform an all-sky survey that is expected to discover a thousand x-ray sources.

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The HMXT Insight is the last of the cluster of four space science missions covered under China’s 12th 5-year plan that were developed by the National Space Science Centre (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The other three are a dark matter probe, a collection of microgravity experiments and a test of long-range quantum entanglement.

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