Astronomy Today

X-Ray Space Telescopes

What were the first X-ray telescopes?

In 1962 a scientific team led by Italian American physicist Ricardo Giacconi (1931–) and his colleagues launched an X-ray telescope into space aboard an Aerobee rocket. The flight lasted only a few minutes, but during the time it was above the absorptive layers of the atmosphere, the telescope detected the first X-rays from interstellar space, including a strong source coming from the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Subsequent flights during the 1960s detected X-rays from many other sources, including one toward the constellation Cygnus and another toward Taurus (the Crab Nebula).

A researcher at the Marshall Space and Flight Center in Hunts-ville, Alabama, conducts studies to develop X-ray telescope technology. (NASA/Dennis Keim)


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