X-ray spacecraft launching Saturday aims to unravel universe’s evolution

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X-ray spacecraft launching Saturday aims to unravel universe's evolution

A new satellite designed to analyse X-ray light in space is set to launch on August 26.

The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM — pronounced “crism”) brings together Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Together, they aim to resolve mysteries about the formation of the universe and the structure of spacetime. 

The X-rays released in the cosmos’ most energetic explosions and hottest places can reveal some of these secrets. One particularly powerful example involves galaxy clusters — the universe’s biggest building blocks. These groups of galaxies are enveloped by a super-hot gas. XRISM will detect X-ray light from this gas, which will be used to measure the mass of these clusters. The results will provide new evidence about the universe’s evolution. 

As the gas is a remnant of the birth and death of stars, the X-rays will also shine new light on the history of the universe’s chemical elements.

XRISM spacecraft in thermal vacuum test room