Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lobster telescope has an eye for X-rays

04.04.2006


UK astronomers have been at the forefront of designing a revolutionary new X-ray telescope that is based on the eyes of a lobster. By replicating the crustacean’s ability to observe objects all around it without turning its head, scientists are confident that the Lobster instrument will enable a major breakthrough in X-ray astronomy.



The sky viewed at X-ray wavelengths is a violent and unpredictable place. Many sources brighten without warning, then vanish just as suddenly. Others vary cyclically over a period that can range from minutes to years.

The ideal X-ray telescope, therefore, would observe “all the sky, all of the time” – an ideal which might seem unattainable, but which is approached by the Lobster concept, to be described by Dr. Nigel Bannister (University of Leicester) at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting, University of Leicester, on 4 April.


“The great advantage of the Lobster design is an almost unlimited field of view,” said Dr. Bannister. “This makes it ideal for use as an all-sky X-ray monitor.”

In the 1970s, lobsters and some other crustacea were found to view the world through remarkable eyes which focus light over a very wide field of view by means of reflection, rather than by refraction or bending of light, as in the human eye.

The lobster eye – essentially an array of tube-like channels with a square cross-section – was proposed as the basis of an X-ray “all-sky monitor” by Roger Angel of the University of Arizona in 1977. However, it has taken almost 30 years – and nearly 15 years from the first successful X-ray measurements with such structures in 1992 - to perfect the optic technology.

Only now is it possible to consider the space missions described by Nigel Bannister as practical propositions, with the Lobster All-Sky X-ray Monitor successfully completing a detailed European Space Agency (ESA) Phase-A study in 2005.

“The studies of Lobster conducted with ESA since 2001 suggest that the instrument will have an impact on almost every area of astrophysics,” said Professor George Fraser, Director of the University of Leicester Space Research Centre and leader of the international team which has been studying Lobster.

“Originally, these studies concentrated on mounting the Lobster telescope modules on the International Space Station (ISS), but more recently we’ve been looking at a free-flying satellite platform provided by the Russians.”

Fraser points out that it has not been easy as a British scientist leading a study for an ISS attached payload, since the UK does not contribute to the ISS programme. There has also been some scepticism regarding a collaboration with Russia since the failure of the Russian Spectrum X - Gamma project in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Nevertheless, I am confident that the Lobster concept will eventually make its impact on astrophysics,” he said.

“The scientific impact of Lobster will span all of astronomy - from studies of the X-ray emission of comets to stars and quasars, from regular X-ray binaries to the catastrophic events of supernovæ and the enigmatic gamma-ray bursts.

“Through frequent re-observation of each point in the sky during the lifetime of the mission, Lobster offers the opportunity to perform deep, sensitive surveys of both galactic and extra-galactic sources.

“This will lead to the collation of a “Lobster All-Sky Catalogue” containing hundreds of thousands of sources, including a significant population of objects for which photometry on approximately 1 day timescales will be available.

“Such a rich catalogue of sources offers an unprecedented opportunity to study the large-scale distribution of matter in the Universe, probing possible links between supercluster filamentary structures and the purported existence of dark matter in the cosmos.”

Professor George Fraser | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nam2006.le.ac.uk/index.shtml

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>