Washington University in St. Louis announced that its X-Calibur instrument, a telescope that measures the polarization of X-rays arriving from distant neutron stars, black holes and other exotic celestial bodies, launched from McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
X-Calibur, a novel telescope that sees polarized X-rays rather than visible or infrared light, is preparing to launch from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, N.M. The telescope’s scientific team is led by Henric Krawczynski, professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
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.