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 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

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

Decoding cement's shape promises greener concrete

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>