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Example Science Investigations

With the help of IXO, In the next decade when X-ray astronomy will leap into a deeper astrophysical understanding through high throughput imaging and spectroscopy. Below we detail a few of the types of science investigations that can be performed with IXO.

Black Holes and Matter Under Extreme Conditions

blue box What is the equation of state of matter in neutron stars?

At their cores, neutron stars harbor the highest matter densities in the Universe, up to several times the densities in atomic nuclei. The behavior of matter under such conditions is governed by Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), and the close study of the properties of neutron stars offers the unique opportunity to test and explore the richness of QCD in a regime that is beyond the reach of terrestrial experiments.

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Formation and Evolution of Galaxies, Clusters, and Large Scale Structures

blue box How does cosmic feedback work and influence galaxy formation?

IXO will be sensitive to feedback on all types of interstellar and intergalactic gas, comprising million degree collisionally ionized or ten-thousand degree or photoionized gas.

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Life Cycles of Matter and Energy

blue box How do high energy processes affect planetary formation and habitability?

IXO will observe protoplanetary systems to produce a time-series of the iron Kα line intensity over the a few hours following a superflare to reveal the disk structure as viewed by the X-ray emitting magnetic loop with ~2 AU spatial resolution. Combined with space-based and ground-based (e.g., Keck mid-infrared adaptive optics, Atacama Large Millimeter Array) data, detailed portraits of these particular X-ray illuminated protoplanetary disks will emerge.

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