China launches its first X-ray space telescope to study black holes

BEIJING: China successfully launched on Thursday its first X-ray space telescope to study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts, state media reported.

A Long March-4B rocket carried the 2.5-tonne telescope into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China´s Gobi Desert at 11:00 am (3:00 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), named Insight, will allow Chinese scientists to observe magnetic fields and the interiors of pulsars and better understand the evolution of black holes.

It will also help scientists search for gamma-ray bursts corresponding to gravitational waves and study how to pulsars can be used for spacecraft navigation, Xinhua said.

“Insight is expected to push forward the development of space astronomy and improve space X-ray detection technology in China,” Xinhua said.

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