The German-made space telescope creates the most detailed map of Black Hole And there are neutron stars throughout our universe, revealing more than 3 million newly discovered objects within two years.
Observatory called eROSITALaunched in 2019, it is the first space-based X-ray telescope capable of imaging the entire sky.It’s the main instrument riding Russian-German Spectrum-X-ray-Gamma missionLocated in an area known as Lagrange point Two, the gravity-balanced sun of two objects-one of the five stable points around the Earth system. From this point of view, eROSITA can clearly see the universe captured by a powerful X-ray detector.
Last month, the team behind eROSITA was led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. Released the first batch of data Acquired by the instrument to the wider scientific community for exploration.
Imaging the whole sky with X-rays for the first time
Telescopes have already led to interesting discoveries. Huge x-ray bubbles Emit from the center of Milky Way.. With its first public science release, eROSITA is ready to shed some long-standing cosmological mysteries, including elusive distributions. Dark energy In space, mission senior scientist Andrea Meloni told Space.com.
“For the first time, we have an X-ray telescope that can be used in a very similar way to the large-field optical telescopes we use today,” says Merloni. “With eROSITA, we can cover the entire sky very efficiently and study large-scale structures such as the entire Milky Way.”
All-sky observation like the European Space Agency Gaia Mission or ground base Extremely large telescope The European Southern Observatory images a vast area of the sky in a single sweep, allowing astronomers to understand the movement of stars and other celestial populations as a whole. Gaia, for example, observes nearly two billion stars in the Milky Way and measures sky position and distance from Earth with unprecedented accuracy.
“Large-scale research optical telescopes are now very popular because they are so useful in the study of cosmology. [the evolution of the universe] There’s also dark energy, “Merloni said. “But optical telescopes are much easier to design than X-ray telescopes.”
However, some of the most interesting objects in the universe do not emit visible wavelength light, so most remain hidden in the optical telescope. This includes black holes and neutron stars.But also far away Cluster of galaxiesThe collection of galaxies, which represent the most complex structures in the universe, is more easily observed by X-ray.
“Traditional X-ray telescopes have been able to see the center very deeply to observe the early universe,” Merloni said. “But it has always been very difficult to put together a large group. [of black holes, neutron stars and clusters] Then create a large catalog that can be used to study their cosmological evolution. “
The eROSITA telescope reuses many technologies developed for ESA veteran XMM Newton, which has been orbiting the Earth since 1999. With technical coordination by the MaxPlanck Institute team and its collaborators, the new telescope can produce images of the same quality as. XMM-Newton, but beyond a much broader perspective, Merloni said.
Map of a black hole in space
eROSITA started taking the first image in October 2019. Since then, we have completed three all-sky observations. This is an empty map that reflects the distribution of X-ray sources in space.
The data has not yet been widely released to scientists, but the catalog contains information about 3 million X-ray sources such as black holes, neutron stars, and clusters of galaxies, Merloni said. About 77% of their sources are distant black holes in other galaxies, and 20% are neutron stars, Milky Way stars and black holes. He added that the remaining 3% was a cluster of galaxies.
“In the 50 years of X-ray astronomy up to eROSITA, in total, [X-ray] About one million sources were found on all missions, Merloni said. “Some need to be verified, but we’ve already found three times as much information as previously known.” Told.
Chandra and XMM-Newton are so good at diving deep into small parts of the universe that most of the previously known objects were concentrated in their pockets, Merloni added. Meanwhile, the new black holes, clusters, and neutron stars detected by eROSITA are evenly distributed throughout the sky.
Just as Gaia has allowed scientists to move from studying individual stars to visualizing movements and dynamics within the galaxy (and leapfrogging their understanding of evolution), eROSITA can open up entirely new possibilities. It is expected.
How a cluster changes from a “village” to a “city”
Merloni is particularly excited that eROSITA may reveal the evolution of clusters of galaxies. This is a large group of hundreds to thousands of galaxies connected by gravity. Clusters, the product of galaxy collisions, began to emerge about 10 billion years ago and have grown steadily over billions of years, from small “villages” to “big cities.”
Astronomers can reconstruct the evolution of these enormous structures over time, as eROSITA can see objects as far away as it took light to reach the detector for 7 billion years. increase.
“Clusters can be seen without an X-ray telescope, but it can be difficult to unravel them from other galaxy populations,” Merloni said. “What you see on X-rays is the intergalactic gas in the clusters, which gets very hot and gives off this X-ray glow. In the eROSITA image, it’s actually very easy to see how these clusters shine. Can be distinguished. “
By studying clusters at different distances (and therefore different ages), astronomers can create a timeline for cluster evolution and shed light on the process that drives this evolution.
“By discovering a large number of clusters of galaxies, we can understand whether the gradual agglomeration of galaxies occurred faster or later,” Merloni said. “By understanding this, we can understand something about density. Dark matter Dark energy determines the rate at which these clusters form. “
Dark matter is believed to be responsible for most of the gravitational force of the universe, but dark energy is an elusive repulsive force against gravity that has never been directly observed or measured.
However, eROSITA measurements need to be most accurate in combination with data from Gaia and other observatories, including some of the larger ground-based surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the upcoming Vera Rubin Observatory. there is. Information about where the cluster is located correctly.
“With accurate data on these clusters, we can impose some constraints on the dark energy equations and contribute to this large company of cosmological analysis,” Merloni added.
The first public eROSITA data release presented at the 2021 conference of the European Astronomical Society in June contained data collected during the first two months of eROSITA operation. This is just the first step in this effort. The mission is set to complete its major scientific task in 2023, but astronomers hope it will continue to operate for years to come. In any case, the catalog of X-ray radiation objects in our universe will keep scientists busy for decades to come, Merloni said.
“The previous X-ray all-sky observation mission [the German satellite] “We made only one all-sky observation in 1990, which was probably 10 times shallower and less accurate than us, but people are still more than 30 years old, and a treatise based on it. Continued to announce. “
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The most complete map of a black hole captured by the German X-ray Space Telescope
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