Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why infrared astronomy is a hot topic

11.09.2003


ESA’s Herschel spacecraft will collect infrared radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. But why are observations of infrared light so special?



The Universe is full of radiation of all types but most of this does not reach us here on Earth because our atmosphere blocks out many wavelengths of radiation, but lets others through.

Fortunately for life on Earth, the atmosphere blocks out harmful, high-energy radiation like X-rays, gamma rays and most ultraviolet rays. It also blocks out most infrared radiation, except for a few narrow wavelength ranges that make it through to ground-based infrared telescopes.


Our atmosphere causes another problem - it radiates strongly in the infrared itself, often putting out more infrared radiation than the object in space being observed. This is why ground-based infrared observatories are usually placed near the summits of high mountains to get above as much of the atmosphere as possible.

This is why it is so important to put observatories into space, to get above our atmosphere which prevents so much of this valuable information from reaching us.

ISO unveils the hidden rings of Andromeda

So why is it so important to see in infrared?

Many of the things scientists want to observe in space are far too cold to radiate at optical or shorter wavelengths, but radiate strongly in infrared, for example, the cold atoms and molecules that drift in interstellar space. We need to study these raw materials to understand how stars form and evolve.

“By observing in the infrared we can study how things get formed, the very early steps, because formation processes very often happen in cool and dusty places,” explains Göran Pilbratt, ESA’s Herschel Project Scientist.

In our own Solar System, cold objects such as comets and asteroids reveal most of their characteristics to us in infrared light.

Other things of great interest to astronomy are hidden within or behind vast clouds of gas and dust. These clouds hide stars and planets in early stages of formation and the powerful cores of active galaxies.

Our view is blocked because the dust grains are very effective at scattering or absorbing visible light. Longer infrared wavelengths can get through the dust.

The future is extremely bright for infrared astronomy and, in the next decade, you will hear a lot about ESA discoveries in infrared astronomy!

Monica Talevi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMX9PZO4HD_exploring_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>