As it happens there are lots of astrophysical sources of X-rays already in space, including our sun. The gravitational fields around, in particular, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes are very strong and pull stellar material towards them. The material gets very hot and emits lots of X-rays, some of which have much more energy than the X-rays used in medical X-ray machines and would be damaging if fired at your body.
There are also a fair few X-ray detectors in space at the moment. X-rays are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and so astronomers need to use space telescopes to detect them. XMM, Chandra and Swift are three satellites with X-ray detectors that have been orbiting the Earth for over 10 years each, detecting X-rays from stars and galaxies and sending data back to astrophysicists on the ground. The data are analysed and provide lots of information about the stars and galaxies from which the X-rays came.
- Catherine Bell.