China launched the Einstein probe to probe the universe for X-ray bursts

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On January 9, 2024, a long March-2C rocket carrying the Einstein Probe satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Site in Xichang, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

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A probe designed to search the skies for bursts of X-rays that could help illuminate mysterious phenomena associated with black holes and merging stars flew by this week.

The Einstein probe, named after the famous German-born theoretical physicist, was launched on Tuesday on one of China's Long March 2C rockets. European Space Agency press release.

Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation of China, which operates China's Long March rockets, confirmed the successful launch. Social media.

The spacecraft is a joint venture between the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and the European Space Agency.

The signs of X-ray bursts will help scientists develop a better fundamental understanding of high-energy processes in space, such as supernova explosions, neutron star collisions and black holes after they swallow magnetic fields, ESA said.

The hunt for the X-ray bombardment

The Einstein probe uses two instruments to detect bursts of X-ray light emitted by these events: a Wide-Field X-ray Telescope (WXT) and a Follow-up X-ray Telescope (FXT).

WXT is designed to perform a broad scan of the sky and hunt for X-ray beams. The device is shaped like a crab's eyes, which have thousands of square holes that focus light into a circular focus. Using a similar design in the telescope allows us to capture the WXT One tenth According to the ESA, the entire sky in one snapshot.

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After the WXT instrument detects an X-ray, the more sensitive FXT instrument is designed to quickly collect more depth information.

“Thanks to (WXT's) unique wide field of view, we can capture X-ray light from collisions between neutron stars and discover what causes some of the gravitational waves we detect on Earth,” said ESA's Einstein Research Eric Kulkers. Project Scientist, in a statement. “Often, when these elusive spacetime ripples are recorded, we can't figure out where they're coming from. By immediately detecting a burst of X-rays, we can pinpoint the origin of many gravitational wave events.

The Einstein probe is expected to operate in Earth orbit, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) above the ground. The spacecraft is expected to be able to scan the entire night sky with X-rays in three orbits around Earth, or roughly every four and a half hours.

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