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 Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven

nachricht Home computers discover a record-breaking pulsar-neutron star system
08.12.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks

08.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>