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China has launched its first X-ray space telescope on Thursday for observing black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts using Long March-4B rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert.

The telescope is called Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) and is China’s first space observatory and also the fourth and final launch of the primary batch of space science missions developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The second batch of five missions is already under development and is expected to launch by 2020.

The 2.5 ton HXMT, also known as Insight, was sent into the orbit of 550 km above Earth for helping scientists to learn in detail about the development the black holes, the strong magnetic fields and also the interiors of pulsars. The telescope is likely to operate for minimum four years.

HXMT contains three sets of detectors in order to accumulate highly energetic X-rays that are emitted by black holes, neutron stars and other happenings across a range of 1-250 kiloelectron volts (keV).

The telescope will help the scientists to gather information about how to use pulsars for spacecraft navigation and to search for gamma-ray bursts parallel to gravitational waves, as reported by Shanghai Daily.

The principal investigator of the project, Zhang Shuangnan, informed the BCAS magazine that HXMT will examine the Galactic plane for creating a highly accurate X-ray map of the sky. This can also verify the formerly undiscovered black holes in the Milky Way and maybe new types of substances as well.

HXMT team at Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) also collaborated with The University of Ferrara in Italy which supported the ground calibrations on the instruments at its LARIX X-ray facility.

“We are interested in contributing to this project not only for the scientific aspects but also to give, especially to young researchers, future prospects of collaboration in future missions of common interest,” said Filippo Frontera of The University of Italy.

He added, “The [Chinese] plan for scientific space missions is very exciting. In addition they are open to collaboration in new space missions,” per GBTimes.

The Insight is likely to push forward the advancement of space astronomy and also enhance space X-ray detection technology in China.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017

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