First image from IXPE

Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A as seen by IXPE

NASA today released the first image produced from its new X-ray space telescope, the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE).

The photo to the right is that image, showing the intensity of X-rays coming from the supernovae remnant Cassiopeia A. From the caption:

Colors ranging from cool purple and blue to red and hot white correspond with the increasing brightness of the X-rays. The image was created using X-ray data collected by IXPE between Jan. 11-18.

Though Chandra also detects objects in X-rays, IXPE will also detect their polarization, or the way the rays are oriented as they travel through space.

SpaceX launches NASA X-ray telescope

Capitalism in space: SpaceX early this morning successfully launched NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), a small X-ray telescope designed to black holes and neutron stars.

The first stage, making its fifth flight, successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic.

This launch, SpaceX’s 28th for 2021, extends once again the company’s all time record for the most launches in a year by a private company.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

46 China
28 SpaceX
21 Russia
6 Europe (Arianespace)
5 Rocket Lab

China’s lead over the U.S, in the national rankings has now shrunk to 46 to 45. The launch was the 121st in 2021, making this year tied as the seventh most active year in the history of space, a ranking that is sure to go up before the end of the year.