X-ray astronomy entered a golden age in December 1999 with the success of the launch of the X-ray Multi-Mirror (XMM) satellite.
Each of the three huge drums of the XMM telescopes contains 58 concentric cylindrical mirrors, which together total a surface that could rival a tennis court. Each mirror has been plated with gold less than a millimeter thick to reflect the X-rays that normally penetrate.
ESA's XMM joins NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in the leadership of astronomical X-ray observatories. The XMM satellite also carries a small ultraviolet and optical telescope. The infrequent elliptical orbit of the XMM around the Earth becomes almost a third of the distance to the Moon.
The XMM observation program included the monitoring of the hot surroundings of the black holes, the regions surrounding the centers of the galaxies, the mysterious light coming from the cosmic X-ray background that seems to come from all directions and the hot gas that Shines between the galaxies and the stars.
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