Polarized X-rays reveal shape, orientation of extremely hot matter around black hole

The first observations of a mass-accreting black hole from the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission reveal new details about the configuration of extremely hot matter in the region immediately surrounding it. Researchers are using measurements of the polarization of X-rays to test and refine models that describe how black holes swallow matter, becoming some of the most luminous sources of light — including X-rays — in the universe.