Scotch Tape Inspires New X-Ray Mirror ConceptCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 10, 2012 05:13PM
To best study the Universe, researchers have to look across the electromagnetic spectrum as different frequencies tell us different things. Each part of the spectrum however requires special tools to be examined, such as the cooled infrared telescopes in orbit and massive radio telescope arrays on Earth. X-Ray astronomy is particularly difficult because of you cannot just reflect the photons off of a mirror like that in your bathroom. Instead you need long, deep mirrors that deflect the photons like a rock skipping on a pond, but these are expensive and challenging to make. Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have thought up a new kind of X-Ray mirror which may be much easier to work with.
Modern X-Ray mirrors have to be precisely rolled and nested inside of each other to function, which is a very challenging task. Instead the researchers propose using something akin to Scotch tape with a reflective layer on that is easily rolled up. By controlling the thickness of the tape, the researchers can control the distance between the mirrors, while the alignment and support already present due to the rolled up design.
Though currently just a concept, if this design does get developed into an actual X-Ray observatory mirror, that observatory could revolutionize X-Ray astronomy. The mirror could be much larger than modern ones which would enable it to not only measure hard X-Rays from cosmic rays but image them as well, like the Hubble space Telescope does for visible light.