CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — NASA will launch their new Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) from the Kennedy Space Center at 1 a.m. EST on Dec. 9. 

The IXPE spacecraft will help scientists understand X-ray production in the most extreme objects in the universe, such as black holes and neutron stars. IXPE has three X-ray telescopes that study stellar phenomena that naturally emit X-rays. 

X-rays can be found in places under extreme conditions like “violent collisions, enormous explosions, 10-million-degree temperatures, and strong magnetic fields.” Because Earth’s atmosphere blocks X-rays from reaching us, orbital telescopes are used instead of ones found on Earth’s surface.