Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Penn-Led Team to Look to Distant Galaxies with Balloon-Borne Telescope

13.06.2005


An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the University of Pennsylvania, has launched the most highly sensitive telescope of its kind to be carried by balloon. The Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope or BLAST will take a five to nine-day journey along the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. BLAST will collect images of objects in our solar system as well as the distant light that details the formation of stars and the evolution of whole galaxies.

The balloon launched on June 11th from the Swedish Space Corporation facility in Kiruna, Sweden and follow the atmospheric currents toward Canada where it will be recovered.

Suspended by a massive (37 million cubic foot) unmanned helium balloon, the BLAST will float 126,000 feet up, to the edge of space -- past the pollution and atmospheric conditions that hamper the abilities of even the best Earthbound telescopes. When fully inflated, the balloon would fill a football stadium.



"While BLAST won’t become a permanent fixture in the sky, balloon-based astronomy offers many of the perks of space-based telescopes at a fraction of the cost of actually putting a telescope in orbit and maintaining it," said Mark Devlin, principle investigator for the BLAST project and associate professor in Penn’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The telescope’s mirror measures two meters (6.5 feet) in diameter and will be capable of surveying a patch of sky about four times the size of the moon to look for faint stellar objects. The entire telescope weighs 2000 kilograms (about 4400 pounds).

On board, 260 detectors, about 20 times as many ever used on a balloon telescope flight, will convert photons from the observed objects into heat. A rise in temperature would thereby measure the number of photons from galaxies formed 5 to 12 billion years ago, when the universe was one-tenth its current age. The detectors will capture light at three separate wavelengths. By measuring the number of photons at each wavelength of light from an object, the astronomers could determine how far away the object is as well as its luminosity.

The goal of the project is to conduct a series of experiments to help accurately theories of the formation of stars within our own galaxy as well as the formation of other galaxies. Chief among those is a series of extra-galactic surveys to identify the distant galaxies responsible for producing the background levels of light and radiation that we see throughout the Universe. In addition, BLAST will survey the molecular clouds associated with the earliest stages of star formation. Closer to home, BLAST will observe features of our own Solar System including planets, and large asteroids.

"Not only are we collecting some unique and interesting information about the universe, but we are also pioneering technologies that will pave the way for other planned balloon projects," Devlin said. "Of course, once we have our data, the real hard part comes in figuring out what all this information means.

Along with Devlin, the Penn BLAST contingent is comprised of Ed Chapin, Simon Dicker, Jeff Klein, Marie Rex and Chris Semisch. In its entirety, the BLAST project is a collaboration between Penn researchers and colleagues at Brown University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the University of Miami, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cardiff University and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica of Mexico.

Support for the research was provided by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the United Kingdoms Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

Technical details about BLAST can be found online at: chile1.physics.upenn.edu/blastpublic/index.shtml.

Ongoing details about the launch can be found at the blog of University of British Colombia graduate student Gaelen Marsden and the blog of University of Toronto graduate student Don Weibe.

Global positioning system tracking of BLAST can be found at NASA’s National Scientific Balloon Facility’s website: >www.nsbf.nasa.gov/sweden/sweden05.htma>

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~gmarsden/kiruna_2005
http://gimli.physics.utoronto.ca/Kiruna_2005
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light
23.10.2017 | Chalmers University of Technology

nachricht Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons
23.10.2017 | Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

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: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>