Sensitive polarization measurements in X-ray may address a wealth of astrophysical phenomena, which so far remain beyond our understanding through available X-ray spectroscopic, imaging, and timing studies. Though scientific potential of X-ray polarimetry was realized long ago, there has not been any significant advancement in this field for the last four decades since the birth of X-ray astronomy. The only successful polarization measurement in X-rays dates back to 1976, when a Bragg polarimeter onboard OSO-8 measured polarization of Crab nebula. Primary reason behind the lack in progress is its extreme photon hungry nature, which results in poor sensitivity of the polarimeters.
Recently, in the last decade or so, with the advancement in detection technology, X-ray polarimetry may see a significant progress in near future, especially in soft X-rays with the invention of photoelectron tracking polarimeters. Though photoelectric polarimeters are expected to provide sensitive polarization measurements of celestial X-ray sources, they are sensitive only in soft X-rays, where the radiation from the sources is dominated by thermal radiation and therefore expected to be less polarized. On the other hand, in hard X-rays, sources are ex-pected to be highly polarized due to the dominance of nonthermal emission over its thermal counterpart. Moreover, polarization measurements in hard X-rays promises to address few interesting scientific issues regarding geometry of corona for black hole sources, emission mechanism responsible for the higher energy peak in the blazars, accretion geometry close to the magnetic poles in accreting neutron star systems and acceleration mechanism in solar flares. Compton polarimeters provide better sensitivity than photoelectric polarimeters in hard X-rays with a broad energy band of operation. Recently, with the development of hard X-ray focusing optics e.g. NuSTAR, Astro-H, it is now possible to conceive Compton polarimeters at the focal plane of such hard X-ray telescopes, which may provide [...]
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