NASA's IXPE captures first image of Supernova Cassiopeia A

Jay Kakade
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Cassiopeia A 
NASA’s IXPE (Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer) was launched on December 9, 2021 has sent its first image of Supernova Cassiopeia A after completing two months long commissioning phase.

IXPE is a collaboration of NASA and Italian Space Agency with 12 other collaborative countries. IXPE orbits 600 Kilometres above the earth's Equator.

According to NASA, Instruments and equipment are working well and are all set to capture enigmatic images of mysterious and extreme Interstellar objects.

Cassiopeia A is an object consisting of remains that exploded in 17th century. Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer first focused its X-Ray eyes on Cassiopeia A.
The shock waves at the time of explosion swept away all surrounding gases. This gases were heated at high temperatures and cosmic particles were accelerated which made clouds to glow in X-Ray images.

It is not the first time time that Cassiopeia A is studied. Other telescopes too have observed Cassiopeia A but IXPE will open new doors of ways to explore it.


Cassiopeia A
First Image of Cassiopeia A captured by IXPE. Magenta colour shows the intensity of X-Ray light while Blue colour shows energy part. (Image Credit: NASA/IXPE)


This is the image captured by NASA's IXPE. The high saturated Magenta colour states the intensity of X-Ray lights snapped by telescope, While blue part shows the high energy X-Ray lights.

Both Chandra and IXPE are studying Cassiopeia A. Chandra and IXPE captures high resolution images with its powerful combined instruments. Both have successfully captured levels of sharpness.

Chandra which was launched in 1999 also shot Cassiopeia A as its first image. Observations and X-Ray images of Chandra claims there is a compact object at center of this supernova. This object may be a black hole or a neutron star.

Martin C. Weisskopf, the IXPE principal investigator says, The images sent by IXPE are as historic as Chandra captured. IXPE shows its potential to provide never seen before experience of universe.

One of the main objective of IXPE is to study Polarization. Polarization is a way to look how light travels through space. Studying polarization of light can provide us with clue of environment from where it originated.


IXPE uses instruments which measures the energy and time of arrival of the light. It can detect location of cosmic source too. IXPE will be a great way to study remains of Cassiopeia A.

Supernova Cassiopeia A is ten light years broad in diameter. With polarization data of IXPE, astronomers will be able to find out variations in light coming from supernova remnant.
Astronomers are studying Polarization data to build a new map of the object. This map will help to study how X-Ray lights originate in Supernova.

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