Gone era: the orbiting telescope

Today, 30 January 2020, the last day of the infrared space Observatory “Spitzer”. She was launched on 25 August 2003 and more than 16 years ago astronomers startling discoveries.

the Telescope was originally designed for 2.5-5 years of work, but it lasted much longer. Over the years he has observed more than 800 thousand different objects and made more than 36 million images. About four thousand of scientists around the world thanks to the tool has completed more than nine thousand studies.

“Spitzer” observed the Universe in infrared (IR) range. This range of electromagnetic waves extends from about one millimeter (radiation with a longer wavelength — this is radio waves) to 0.75 micrometer (shorter — wave visible light already). Is infrared radiation heats our hand when we put it to the side of the heater.

In the Earth’s atmosphere infrared radiation absorbed by carbon dioxide, water vapor and other substances, as oxygen and nitrogen scatter them. Moreover, they emit very surface of the planet. Therefore, in this range of ground-based astronomical observations extremely difficult. This prompted scientists to send a “Spitzer” into orbit.

That can produce an infrared telescope that is not able optical? Explain. Each physical body, whether star, or a rock, emits electromagnetic radiation. At what wavelength it emits the most intense? It depends on the temperature. And range from -270 DEGC to +3870 DEGC maximum radiation falls on the infrared range.

That is all that is not heated to +DEGC 3870 or higher, heaviest emits it in the IR. This planets, moons, asteroids, brown dwarfs, clouds of dust and gas and, incidentally, about 70% of the stars.

here, “Spitzer” has done humanity an invaluable service. He opened up a lot of regions of star formation where stars are born, and protoplanetary disks in which the planets formed. Bodyosprey helped to learn a huge amount of asteroids and a few exoplanets. This list goes on and on.

the Special relationship with infrared telescopes with dust. Some of the wavelengths from the IR range it emits intensely that helped “Spitzer” open the dusty discs around stars. And in other parts of the IR spectrum of a dust cloud is completely transparent. Therefore, the tool was available portions of space invisible to optical telescopes.

Finally, there is another area, where famous for the legendary Observatory. This observation of extremely distant objects. The fact that the red shift of visible light shifts of the most distant galaxies and quasars into the infrared. And precisely because of the “Spitzer” was discovered many of the objects formed when the Universe was less than 5% of the current.

the Impressive list of discoveries made with this telescope, can be found in the material of the project “Conduct.Science”, dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the instrument.

“Spitzer” has worked in full mode from 2003 to 2009. Then he ran out of refrigerant, cooling a telescope mirror to -267 DEGC. After that, the tool has lost the ability to work in most of the IR range. But since space is cold in itself, the telescope was kept the temperature of the mirror -244 DEGC. This was enough for the observations in two narrow ranges of wavelengths, and in this mode the unit was operated for over a decade. The mission for this time was extended five times.

of Course, the years affected the efficiency of the equipment. Besides, today on the way infrared telescope of a new generation “James Webb”, the launch of which is expected in 2021. In this regard, NASA engineers decided to complete the mission.

the word “Conduct.Science” covered termination and other famous space Odyssey. So, we talked about the final career of the Rover “opportunity” and explored the Saturn probe “Cassini”.

Text: To.Science