NASA has just funded Henri Krawczynski and his colleague Matthias Beilicke, to launch a balloon-borne telescope sensitive to the polarization of light that will float at an altitude of 130,000 feet for a day. During that time, the balloon will stare fixedly at two black holes in our galaxy, an accreting neutron star, the Crab nebula, an extragalactic black hole and other targets yet to be chosen. One of the first instruments of its type, it should be able to make the first direct measurements of the spin rate of black holes, among other advancements.
The VERITAS array of telescopes has detected pulsed gamma rays from the pulsar at the heart of the Crab Nebula that have energies far higher than the common theoretical models can explain. The finding is one of the most exciting in the telescope’s history, according to consortium members at Washington University in St. Louis.