Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Powerful detectors on Hawaiian telescope to probe origins of stars, planets and galaxies

Date:
December 12, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
The world's largest submillimeter camera -- based on superconducting technology -- is now ready to scan the universe, including faint and faraway parts never seen before.

The world's largest submillimeter camera -- based on superconducting technology designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) -- is now ready to scan the universe, including faint and faraway parts never seen before.

Mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the NIST technology will help accelerate studies of the origins of stars, planets and galaxies.

The new 4.5-ton SCUBA-2 camera, which contains more than 10,000 of NIST's superconducting sensors, is far more sensitive than its predecessor SCUBA (the highly productive Submillimeter Common-Use Bolometer Array), and will enable astronomers to map the sky hundreds of times faster and with a much larger field of view. SCUBA-2 will produce better images and sky maps, image new targets, and support deeper and broader surveys.

The product of an international research collaboration, SCUBA-2 will image objects ranging from comets in Earth's solar system to galaxies at the far ends of the universe. The camera is sensitive to objects associated with very cold gas and dust clouds, which absorb visible light (and therefore look black to optical telescopes) but emit the barest whiffs of submillimeter radiation -- at wavelengths below 1 millimeter, between the microwave and infrared bands. Submillimeter light oscillates at terahertz frequencies, hundreds of times faster than cell phones.

"The submillimeter is the last frontier in astronomical imaging," says NIST physicist Gene Hilton, who developed the fabrication method for the NIST instrument. "It's been very difficult to develop cameras that work at this wavelength, so the submillimeter is largely unexplored. We're excited to see what SCUBA-2 will reveal."

SCUBA-2 complements other observatories. For instance, its ability to quickly carry out large-scale surveys could identify targets for high-resolution studies by the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (Alma), an array of radiotelescope dishes recently unveiled in Chile.

The NIST sensors precisely measure submillimeter radiated power using a superconducting metal, molybdenum-copper, that changes resistance in response to heat from radiation. Each tiny but powerful sensor functions as a single pixel in the camera. In sheer numbers of pixels, the NIST instrument is the largest superconducting camera ever made, although its physical size is only about 30 square inches divided into two areas targeting different wavelengths. SCUBA-2 can detect two colors of submillimeter light (at 450 and 850 micrometers).

The NIST sensor arrays are packaged with superconducting amplifiers to boost signal strength. The sensors and amplifiers are cooled to cryogenic temperatures near absolute zero. NIST physicist Kent Irwin, who invented the sensor technology, worked with Hilton and other NIST researchers to develop a way of linking the amplifiers to make large-scale sensor arrays practical, greatly reducing the number of wires between the cryogenic instruments and the room-temperature electronics used to compile the data.

SCUBA-2 is a collaboration of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland; NIST; four British and Canadian universities; and the Joint Astronomy Centre in Hawaii, which operates the telescope.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Powerful detectors on Hawaiian telescope to probe origins of stars, planets and galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207113607.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, December 12). Powerful detectors on Hawaiian telescope to probe origins of stars, planets and galaxies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207113607.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Powerful detectors on Hawaiian telescope to probe origins of stars, planets and galaxies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207113607.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins