By CBSMiami.com Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Space is filled with interesting phenomena we don’t fully understand, but NASA is launching a mission early Thursday morning that hopes to make a dent in that by studying some of the most energetic, most dramatic, and most violent objects in space, such as black holes and neutron stars. The first X-ray mission of its kind, the IXPE spacecraft, hopes to uncover hidden details of our universe.

On Dec. 9, NASA is scheduled to launch the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE spacecraft, which will help unlock the secrets to some of the most extreme objects in the universe by exploring the leftovers of exploded stars, black holes, and more by looking at a special property of light called polarization.

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The IXPE launch is scheduled for no earlier than 1 a.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Credits: NASA

Mysterious stellar phenomena such as black holes and neutron stars naturally emit X-rays and the IXPE’s three X-ray space telescopes with sensitive detectors are capable of measuring the polarization of these cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about extremely complex environments in space where gravitational, electric, and magnetic fields are at their limits.

X-rays hold the key to understanding these phenomena, but because Earth’s atmosphere blocks them from reaching us they can only be observed by telescopes in orbit.

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Cassiopeia A. a supernova remnant, is one object that NASA’s IXPE mission will study.

Cassiopeia A. a supernova remnant, is one object that NASA’s IXPE mission will study. Credits: NASA/CXC/SAO

The project is a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency.

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IXPE is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1 a.m. Thursday, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

CBSMiami.com Team