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Galaxies 2018, 6(1), 33; doi:10.3390/galaxies6010033

An Overview of X-Ray Polarimetry of Astronomical Sources

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), ST12, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805, USA
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 26 February 2018 / Accepted: 1 March 2018 / Published: 6 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Bright Future of Astronomical X-ray Polarimetry)
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We review the history of astronomical X-ray polarimetry based on the author’s perspective, beginning with early sounding-rocket experiments by Robert Novick at Columbia University and his team, of which the author was a member. After describing various early techniques for measuring X-ray polarization, we discuss the polarimeter aboard the Orbiting Solar Observatory 8 (OSO-8) and its scientific results. Next, we describe the X-ray polarimeter to have flown aboard the ill-fated original Spectrum-X mission, which provided important lessons on polarimeter design, systematic effects, and the programmatics of a shared focal plane. We conclude with a description of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) and its prospective scientific return. IXPE, a partnership between NASA and ASI, has been selected as a NASA Astrophysics Small Explorers Mission and is currently scheduled to launch in April of 2021. View Full-Text
Keywords: X-ray astronomy; X-ray polarimetry; astrophysics X-ray astronomy; X-ray polarimetry; astrophysics

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Weisskopf, M.C. An Overview of X-Ray Polarimetry of Astronomical Sources. Galaxies 2018, 6, 33.

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