A space telescope that was launched about one year ago has finally completed its inaugural survey. For a few months, the telescope, known as eROSITA, aboard the Spektr-RG space observatory, and it collected observations for the most profound all-sky study in X-ray wavelengths.
The elevated data was compiled into a map that consists of more than a million bright X-ray items – twice more than the number of similar objects from the past 60 years of X-ray astronomy.
Peter Predehl, astrophysicist, and eROSITA principal investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) said:
“This all-sky image completely changes the way we look at the energetic universe.”
“We see such a wealth of detail – the beauty of the images is really stunning,” he added.
Most objects from outer space emit X-rays, but in various proportions in comparison to other wavelengths.
X-rays have extremely short wavelengths, which is the reason why they have such high energy. They are emitted by hot, energetic bodies from outer space, like neutron stars, quasar galaxies, black holes, and supernova remnants.
X-rays can’t be seen by the naked human eye, just like radio waves. Therefore, looking at the sky with an X-ray telescope might shock you. Additionally, X-rays are mostly blocked by our planet’s atmosphere, unlike radio waves, so the best way to observe and analyze them is by sending telescopes into outer space.
Most X-ray telescope studies were conducted at least two decades ago. Meanwhile, the technology progressed drastically, and, according to the eROSITA, the new data is about four times more advanced than previous maps created by the ROSAT satellite.
“Large sky areas have already been covered at many other wavelengths, and now we have the X-ray data to match. We need these other surveys to identify the X-ray sources and understand their nature,” said Mara Salvato, MPE astrophysicist.