ISRO successfully launched XPoSat to measure X-ray polarization from celestial sources

Lift-off normal.

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ISRO’s PSLV-C58 launched the XPOSAT Satellite (X-ray Polarimeter Satellite) into an Eastward low inclination orbit on January 01, 2024, 09:10 Hrs IST. The launch took place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

XPoSat is ISRO‘s first scientific satellite to conduct space-based polarization measurements of X-ray emissions from celestial sources

XPoSat aims to measure the polarization of X-rays in the 8-30keV energy band from approximately 50 cosmic sources using the Thomson Scattering technique with the POLIX payload. Additionally, it will conduct prolonged spectral and temporal studies of cosmic X-ray sources in the 0.8-15keV energy band through the XSPECT payload. POLIX and XSPECT payloads will perform polarimetric and spectroscopic measurements of X-ray emissions from cosmic sources within a shared energy range.

Astronomical sources like black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, and pulsar wind nebulae emit radiation through complex processes, posing challenges to understanding. Despite abundant spectroscopic and timing data from space-based observatories, the precise nature of this emission still needs to be discovered.

Polarimetry measurements, capturing the degree and angle of polarization, provide an additional dimension for astronomers. Combined with spectroscopic data, this diagnostic tool is anticipated to unravel the complexities of astronomical emission processes, breaking the degeneracy among various theoretical models. This represents a significant research direction for the Indian scientific community using data from XPoSat.

The lift-off was normal, and according to astrophysicist Dipankar Bhattacharya, “It was a ‘textbook launch’.”

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