Athena “black-hole” telescope will be more powerful than James Webb Telescope. When will it be released?

03/05/2022
Credit image: ESA - Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics)
Credit image: ESA - Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics)

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 03 May 2022, at 11:15 am Los Angeles time

ESA (European Space Agency) will lead a project in partnership with NASA and JAXA to create a high-performance telescope that will focus on studying black holes.

The Athena Telescope was chosen on June 27, 2014, as the second large ('L-class') mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-25 plan.

In any case, the telescope will be launched after 2030, the initial date being 2035.

Even though ESA and NASA have announced that the telescope will mostly study black holes, it will have the opportunity to observe other bodies in the Universe, its theme being to study the hot and energetic Universe.

Athena will be a telescope with a lot of state-of-the-art features and technologies that will be used in the near future.

The telescope will also be equipped with modern scientific instruments that will help it see and observe the distant universe.

Possible questions it will answer include: How and why does ordinary matter assemble into the structures (galaxies, galaxy groups, and galaxy clusters) that we see today? and How do black holes grow and shape their environment, as well as the cosmological evolution of the galaxies hosting them?

Observations on phenomena such as black holes will have to be space-based in the X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, and according to the European Space Agency, Athena will provide these opportunities.

The observations will have to be made in this way because it will first have to analyze the gas in the Universe that has millions of degrees Celsius and determine its physical properties and its evolution.

Another scientific mission that the telescope will perform is to observe black holes, especially supermassive ones.

Observations will be made on how matter (and energy) leaves and enters these systems.

"To achieve these goals, we need to observe gas at millions of degrees in temperature, and energetic phenomena involving particles moving at speeds comparable to the speed of light. This requires space-based observations in the X-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum - which Athena will provide." Said ESA.

Among other things, Athena will probably beat Webb for its observations, so if Webb's observations amaze us, let's get ready for the future when Athena will fascinate us.

It will be the largest X-ray space telescope ever built.

It will answer essential and important questions in astrophysics and astronomy such as exoplanets (planets outside the solar system), massive observations of supermassive black holes, and more.

And as a bonus, the telescope will be so powerful that it will react to an unexpected astronomical or astrophysical event.

In less than 4 hours, the telescope will be able to move and make observations of a specific place in space where astronomers have detected something.

And that's for 50% of these possible events.

The duration of the telescope is 4 years with possible extensions and will be positioned in L1 orbit.

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