The Imaging X-ray Polarization Explorer (IXPE), scheduled to launch in 2021, will be the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays emitted by astrophysical objects in the 1-10keV band. Its launch will mark 40 years since polarization measurements of the Crab Nebula and pulsar at these energies—the only time such measurements have been taken.
IXPE will train three identical X-ray telescopes on targets as active galactic nuclei (AGN), microquasars, pulsars and pulsar wind nebulae, magnetars, accreting X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, and the center of the Milky Way. IXPE's three detectors will determine magnetic field strength and direction in quasar jets, map the changing polarization of X-rays within parsec-scale AGN regions, help determine how particles are accelerated in shockwave regions of supernova nebulae and measure the spins of black holes.
KIPAC professor Roger Romani is a co-investigator on the IXPE project and co-lead of the theory program and the science working groups. He and other KIPAC researchers are contributing to the theory behind IXPE science goals, which helps to define the necessary instrument capabilities, identify targets, and determine optimum observation strategies.