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China's First X-ray Space Telescope Will Explore Black Holes, Magnetic Field Of Neutron Stars

First Posted: Jun 16, 2017 05:40 AM EDT
China Launches Its First X-ray Space Telescope
China's first X-ray space telescope known as Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope was launched on June 15, 2017 to study celestial objects in space.
(Photo : CNNMoney/YouTube screenshot)

China launches its first X-ray space telescope known as the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Thursday. This enhances China's competence in the field of space research.

The HXMT was lifted into space at 11 a.m. local time on June 15. It was onboard the CZ-4B rocket. HXMT aims to explore and examine black holes, a magnetic field of the neutron stars and surveys the Milky Way, according to Phys.org.

Prof. Zhang Shuangnan, the director of the Key Laboratory for Particle Astrophysics at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) and the lead scientist of HXMT, said that the satellite aims at developing a high precision hard X-ray sky map and discovering new hard X-ray sources. These include possible new types of objects or matter in the Milky Way.

Prof. Zhang added that HXMT could be significant in understanding the physics of celestial X-ray sources, other issues of basics of physics and the emission mechanisms of the radiation. HXMT has three main payloads onboard, namely the low-energy X-ray telescope (4-15 Kev, 384 cm2), the medium-energy X-ray telescope (5-30 Kev, 952 cm2) and the high-energy X-ray telescope (20-250 Kev, 5100 cm2), according to Prof. Lu Fanguin, the chief designer of the HXMT payloads.

HXMT could explore wide-energy range from up to 250 Kev. This could conduct many observations, according to EurekAlert.

The HXMT's scientific instruments will be empowered for the following five days after the launch for an overall functional test. These include a performance test, test observation and the on-orbit calibration observations. Its first round of regular scientific observations is slated in November 2017. Meanwhile, the HXMT's second round of scientific observation proposals is planned in the mid-2018.

China is now enhancing its space research and program. In just the past month, it opened a "Lunar Palace" laboratory to simulate the Moon-like environment. This could accommodate students doing space research for up to 200 days.

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