X-ray Astronomy - History of X-ray Astronomy

History of X-ray Astronomy

Main article: History of X-ray astronomy

In 1927, E.O. Hulburt of the US Naval Research Laboratory and associates Gregory Breit and Merle A. Tuve of the Carnegie Institution of Washington explored the possibility of equipping Robert H. Goddard's rockets to explore the upper atmosphere. "Two years later, he proposed an experimental program in which a rocket might be instrumented to explore the upper atmosphere, including detection of ultraviolet radiation and X-rays at high altitudes".

In the late 1930s, the presence of a very hot, tenuous gas surrounding the Sun was inferred indirectly from optical coronal lines of highly ionized species. The Sun has been known to be surrounded by a hot tenuous corona. In the mid-1940s radio observations revealed a radio corona around the Sun.

The beginning of the search for X-ray sources from above the Earth's atmosphere was on August 5, 1948 12:07 GMT. A US Army (formerly German) V-2 rocket as part of Project Hermes was launched from White Sands Proving Grounds. The first solar X-rays were recorded by T. Burnight.

Through the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, the sensitivity of detectors increased greatly during the 60 years of X-ray astronomy. In addition, the ability to focus X-rays has developed enormously—allowing the production of high-quality images of many fascinating celestial objects.

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