German X-Ray Telescope Snaps Its First Striking Images of the Universe

eROSITA will widen our understanding of the vast Universe out there.
Fabienne Lang

Last Tuesday, incredible images of our Universe were shown at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Germany. The photos were snapped by German X-Ray telescope, eROSITA. 

The images are formed from a combination of pictures taken from all seven telescopes on the Wolter-1 mirror modules. These have been scanning our skies with custom, highly sensitive, CCD cameras, in search of the perfect image. 


eROSITA and the German space agency

Owned by the German space agency (DLR), the eROSITA telescope has been combining X-Ray images of our night sky since it started operating this month, on October 13, 2019. 

Some of these stunning images have been of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), — as seen in this article's main image — as well as A3391/3395, a pair of galaxy clusters that interact together and that are approximately 800 million light-years away from us. 

German X-Ray Telescope Snaps Its First Striking Images of the Universe
The interacting A3391/3395 galaxy clusters captured by eROSITA. Source: Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

"These first images from our telescope show the true beauty of the hidden universe," Peter Predehl, principal investigator of eROSITA, said in a statement.

"To meet our science goals, we needed enough sensitivity to detect the most distant clusters of galaxies in the universe over the whole sky and resolve them spatially. These first light images show that we can do exactly that, but we can go a lot further."

A promising start to eROSITA's work. 


As the telescope boasts CCD cameras and seven mirror modules, its observatory is highly sensitive. Predehl states: "The potential for new discoveries is immense. Now we can start reaping the fruits of more than 10 years of work."

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German X-Ray Telescope Snaps Its First Striking Images of the Universe
eROSITA mirror module. Source: P. Friedrich/MPE via DLR

To prove just how sensitive eROSITA truly is, the telescope was able to catch some details on the LMC. These included remnants of the supernova 1987A, some stars in the foreground, and active galactic nuclei.

The telescope is not only going to be used for snapping incredible imagery of our Universe, however. Scientists also hope it will shed light on dark energy.

Andrea Merloni, an eROSITA project scientist, said in the same statement, "The legacy value will be enormous."

Meroni added, "Beside the beautiful images like the ones we're showing today, catalogues of millions of exotic celestial objects such as black holes, galaxy clusters, neutron stars, supernovae, and active stars will be used by astronomers for years to come."

eROSITA was launched on 13 July this year from the Kazakhstan-based Baikonur Cosmodrome. It is part of a Russian and German collaboration mission, the Spectrum Roentgen Gamma (SRG).

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