China launches new x-ray satellite to study black holes

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its rise and of the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation

Over time, there have been incredible revelations about its structure and evolution.

It was launched into orbit on Thursday using a Long March-4B rocket from northwest China's Gobi Desert.

China has launched its first X-ray space telescope, aimed at studying black holes, pulsars, and gamma ray bursts, state media reported.

The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope, a cutting-edge space telescope launched last Thursday, will help scientists better understand the universe, said project insiders.

China has been working on an innovative X-ray space telescope that is capable of tracing pulsars, gamma-rays, and black holes.

On Friday, June 16, the country's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence revealed that China will also launch four more space probes before 2021 in the nation's efforts to develop space science.

Insight is equipped with three detectors, which include a high-energy X-ray telescope (HE), a medium-energy X-ray telescope (ME) and a low-energy X-ray telescope (LE). The telescope will have an earth orbit of 550 km. "These studies are expected to bring new breakthroughs in physics". Compared to earlier astronomical satellites, the HXMT has a relatively larger detection area, wider energy range and wider field of view.

Very bright objects have a large number of photon particles, which can result in image over-exposure, but HXMT designers solved the problem by diffusing photons instead of focusing them.

"No matter how bright the sources are, our telescope won't be blinded", said Chen.

According to Zhang Shuangnan, HXMT lead scientist, the satellite's developers found that a set of HXMT high-energy detectors, originally created to shield background noises caused by unwanted particles, could be adjusted to observe gamma-ray bursts. The country has long announced that by 2022 it will be having its own crewed space station in outer space.

The launch on Thursday morning from a remote area in Inner Mongolia marks an important step in China's bid to advance a space program that could compete with the United States or Russian Federation, the Financial Times reported.

It would also enable engineers to explore ways of using pulsars as benchmarks for new-generation space navigation technology.

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