After conquering the moon in 2023, India is turning its attention to black holes

After Conquering Moon In 2023, India Turns Its Attention To Black Holes

This is India’s third mission in less than a year to explore the universe.

New Delhi:

Having conquered the moon this year, India will begin 2024 with another ambitious attempt to understand more about the universe and one of its most enduring mysteries – the black hole.

On the morning of January 1, India aims to become the second country in the world to launch an advanced astronomical observatory specifically geared to studying black holes and neutron stars.

When the largest stars run out of fuel and “die,” they collapse under their own gravity and leave behind black holes or neutron stars.

X-ray vision

The Indian satellite, called XPoSAT, or X-ray Polarimetry Satellite, will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s trusty Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket.

“This is only the second mission of its cutting-edge class after NASA’s 2021 mission called Imaging

He added, “The mission will attempt to decipher stellar remnants or corpses of dead stars.”

Using X-ray photons, especially their polarization, XPoSAT will help study radiation from nearby black holes and neutron stars. Dr. Bhalerao said that black holes are objects with the highest gravitational force in the universe, and neutron stars have the highest density, so the mission will reveal the secrets of the extreme environments one witnesses in space.

The astrophysicist said that neutron stars are small objects whose diameter ranges between 20 and 30 kilometers. But it is so dense that just one tablespoon of neutron star material could weigh more than Mount Everest.

Reach for the stars

This is India’s third mission in less than a year to explore the universe. The first was the historic Chandrayaan-3 mission, launched on July 14, 2023, followed by Aditya-L1, a dedicated solar observatory, launched on September 2, 2023.

Dr R Rao, an astronomer at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, said XPoSAT is a unique mission, adding: “Everything in X-ray polarization will be a surprise because everything is new in this field of astronomical exploration.”

In keeping with ISRO’s frugal approach, the Indian XPoSat satellite cost around Rs 250 crore (about $30 million) while NASA’s IXPE mission required an outlay of $188 million. NASA’s mission has a nominal lifespan of two years, while XPoSAT is expected to last more than five years.

“It will investigate the structure of intense magnetic fields in cosmic objects and the behavior of matter and radiation at extremes,” said Professor Biswajit Paul, a scientist at the Raman Research Institute in Bengaluru, which is one of the main drivers of the XPoSAT mission. This will be achieved by observing some bright X-ray sources such as neutron stars and black holes in the range of 8-30 keV.

‘Significant impact’

One nagging concern expressed by ISRO Chairman S Somanath about the XPoSAT mission and Indian science missions in general is that “the user community is still fairly small.” He said that young astronomers from India need to participate in these costly national missions.

However, top Indian scientists are very enthusiastic about this mission. “India is exploring the universe with successive targeted missions and the country can have a major impact in unraveling the many secrets of the universe,” said Dr Dipankar Bhattacharya, an astrophysicist at Ashoka University in Sonipat.

The XPoSAT mission will see the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle make its 60th flight. In addition to carrying the 469-kg XPoSAT rocket, the 44-meter-long, 260-ton rocket will launch with 10 tests.

#conquering #moon #India #turning #attention #black #holes