Science Seminars

Filling in the Gaps: Soft X-ray Polarimetry Development at MIT

Speaker: Sarah Trowbridge Heine (MIT)
Date: Monday, May 23, 2022
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: SPSC-W120A

Seminar Abstract:

X-rays are produced in some of the hottest and most extreme environments in the universe.  Many telescopes, most notably the Chandra X-ray Observatory, have helped us learn a great deal about these sources through imaging and spectroscopy measurements.  The recently launched Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) will measure the polarization of X-rays in the 2 keV to 8 keV region.  Studying the polarization of these X-rays will open a new window to understanding X-ray sources, by helping us to understand their environments and magnetic fields.  However, there are questions IXPE’s polarization measurements are not able to answer because of its limited spectral range.  At the MIT polarimetry lab we are working on extending this range to lower energies using dispersive Critical Angle Transmission (CAT) gratings and Bragg reflectors like laterally graded multilayer mirrors (LGMLs).  This will allow us specifically to study neutron stars to search for proton cyclotron lines and check atmospheric models.  I will discuss our progress and present our mission concept for the Globe Orbiting Soft X-ray Polarimeter (GOSoX), which we recently proposed to NASA’s Pioneer program.