China Launches Einstein Probe: A Milestone in X-ray Astronomy
On January 9th, the Einstein Probe satellite was launched successfully into orbit aboard the Long March 2C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, as reported by the EFE Agency on January 11th. This satellite represents China’s first large-field X-ray astronomy satellite and is designed to capture astronomical phenomena such as black holes and electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein.
The Einstein Probe satellite is a collaborative endeavor involving the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the European Space Agency, the German Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, while the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Space Sciences and the Catalan Institute of Space Studies also contributed.
The satellite’s mission focuses on monitoring cosmic space to detect X-ray bursts from enigmatic celestial bodies, such as neutron stars and black holes, which produce X-rays that are challenging to predict.
It seeks to detect high-energy flashes from catastrophic cosmic events like tidal disruption events (the swallowing of stars by black holes), supernovae, and outbursts from neutron stars and black holes.
According to the Spanish National Research Council, the Einstein Probe could also shed light on the following questions: How black holes can exist in a stable state, how they consume matter, what events generate gravitational waves, and what happens during the supernova explosion of a star.
The Einstein Probe aims to enhance our understanding of these cosmic occurrences by discovering new X-ray sources and tracking changes in the celestial bodies emitting these rays.
The European Space Agency notes that the satellite is equipped with two scientific instruments to efficiently survey the skies: the Wide-field X-ray Telescope (WXT) and the Follow-up X-ray Telescope (FXT). Professor Nanda Rea from the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Space Sciences emphasized that new high-energy flashes are discovered in real-time every day, and the Einstein Probe will allow a unique insight into the early stages of the universe’s most extreme events.
At 15:03 on January 9th, the entrusted Long March 2C rocket successfully delivered the Einstein Probe to its intended orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The launch was a complete success. (Photo by Qiu Lijun)