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Galaxies 2018, 6(3), 71;

Photoelectric Polarimetry and the Gas Pixel Detector Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF)-Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (IAPS), via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Via del Politecnico, s.n.c., 00133 Rome, Italy
Received: 28 May 2018 / Revised: 10 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 16 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Bright Future of Astronomical X-ray Polarimetry)
PDF [454 KB, uploaded 19 September 2018]


Since the very beginning of X-ray Astronomy, polarimetry has been suggested as a tool of diagnostics, of great potentiality. While almost all measurements of X-rays were based on detectors using the photoelectric effect, the first attempt to perform polarimetry were based on Compton scattering and Bragg diffraction. The use of photoelectric effect also for polarimetry has been hypothesized and attempted for many years but never accomplished. Only 40 years from the start of X-ray astronomy, the Gas Pixel Detector (GPD) was developed, compatible with an X-ray optics, and capable of measuring energy, time, position and polarization simultaneously. Only after 20 more years, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, based on the GPD detectors, will be launched. I present the story of the development of photoelectric polarimetry that arrived to the Gas Pixel Detector, and discuss the possible future evolutions. View Full-Text
Keywords: X-ray polarimetry; instrumentation; polarization X-ray polarimetry; instrumentation; polarization

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Costa, E. Photoelectric Polarimetry and the Gas Pixel Detector Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Galaxies 2018, 6, 71.

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