LOOK­ING BACK THE SKY AT NIGHT 14 June 1976

Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN -

In June 1976’s episode of

The Sky at Night, Pa­trick Moore dis­cussed the lat­est find­ings from the Ariel 5 X-ray space ob­ser­va­tory. The Ariel pro­gramme be­gan in 1959 and con­sisted of six satel­lites, the first built by the UK. Ini­tially these were made with the as­sis­tance of NASA, but by the fifth in­stal­ment the satel­lites were not only be­ing de­signed and built in the UK, but were con­trolled from the Ruther­ford Ap­ple­ton Lab­o­ra­tory in Ox­ford­shire.

Ariel 5’s main goal was to record the pre­cise po­si­tions of known stars, as well as de­tect their X-ray spec­tra. How­ever, it also de­tected 27 tran­sient soft X-ray sources – ob­jects whose low en­ergy, or soft, emis­sions, change slowly over time. Most of these were later de­ter­mined to be neu­tron stars in a bi­nary or­bit with a lower mass ‘nor­mal’ star. Its mis­sion came to an end in 1980.

Ariel 5 was launched in 1974, its mis­sion last­ing for six years

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