IXPE Home: Expanding the X-ray View of the Universe

January 10, 2024: IXPE, Martin Weisskopf, and Paolo Soffitta win Rossi Prize!!

The High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society announced this year’s Rossi Prize. The 2024 HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize is awarded to: Martin Weisskopf, Paolo Soffitta and the IXPE team for their development of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer whose novel measurements advance our understanding of particle acceleration and emission from astrophysical shocks, black holes and neutron stars.

This is the highest honor specifically in high-energy astrophysics.

September 6, 2023: IXPE Proposers Workshop

The IXPE General Observer (GO) Facility held a virtual workshop for potential GO proposers (link to presentations). Phil Kaaret, Allyn Tennant, and Doug Swartz presented on behalf of the IXPE Team at MSFC. Approximately 100 persons attended the online workshop.

August 25, 2023: IXPE Discovery Paper*, SGR 1806-20

The thirty-second discovery paper using IXPE data has been published by the Astrophysical Journal, authored by Roberto Turolla and the IXPE team, it is titled IXPE and XMM-Newton Observations of the Soft Gamma Repeater SGR 1806-20.

*An IXPE "Discovery Paper" is the first publication to report the results of a given IXPE observation. Click HERE to access the bibliographic references to IXPE Discovery Papers published to date (November 9, 2023). For a bibliography of all IXPE papers, please visit NASA's HEASARC Bibliography Search Pages.

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) exploits the polarization state of light from astrophysical sources to provide insight into our understanding of X-ray production in objects such as neutron stars and pulsar wind nebulae, as well as stellar and supermassive black holes. Launch has been set for December 9, 2021. Technical and science objectives include:

  • improving polarization sensitivity by two orders of magnitude over the X-ray polarimeter aboard the Orbiting Solar Observatory OSO-8 (scientists see HEASARC: OSO-8),
  • providing simultaneous spectral, spatial, and temporal measurements,
  • determining the geometry and the emission mechanism of Active Galactic Nuclei (see Chandra image below) and microquasars,
  • finding the magnetic field configuration in magnetars and determining the magnitude of the field,
  • finding the mechanism for X ray production in pulsars (both isolated and accreting) and the geometry,
  • determining how particles are accelerated in Pulsar-Wind Nebulae.

astro image example This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, shows a jet emanating from the central, supermassive black hole of Centaurus A. The colors in this image represent the energy of the detected X rays, with red for low, green for middle, and blue representing high-energy X rays. Astrophysical objects like this one, are good candidates for observations of polarization that will give us information about the object's magnetic field and its configuration. For more information on this image, you may visit the Chandra X-ray Observatory's website.

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