Revolutionary new camera reveals the dark side of the Universe

Dec 06, 2011
Revolutionary new camera reveals the dark side of the Universe
A composite image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as M51). The green image is from the Hubble Space Telescope and shows the optical wavelength. The submillimetre light detected by SCUBA-2 is shown in red (850 microns) and blue (450 microns). The Whirlpool Galaxy lies at an estimated distance of 31 million light years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici. Credit: JAC / UBC / Nasa

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new camera that will revolutionise the field of submillimetre astronomy has been unveiled on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii SCUBA-2 is far more sensitive and powerful than previous instruments and can map areas of the sky hundreds of times faster.

SCUBA-2 will provide unprecedented information on the early life of stars - normally obscured by the remains of the very dust and that collapsed under its own to form the star.

"When you look up at the stars, you only see the light they are emitting in the visible part of the . Many galaxies, including our own , contain huge amounts of cold dust that absorbs and these dusty regions just look black when seen through an . The absorbed energy is then re-radiated by the dust at longer, submillimetre, wavelengths", explains Professor Gary Davis, Director of the JCMT. "SCUBA-2 has been designed to detect extremely low in the submillimetre region of the spectrum. To do this, the instrument itself needs to be even colder. The detectors inside SCUBA-2 have to be cooled to only 0.1 degree above absolute zero [–273.05°C], making the interior of SCUBA-2 colder than anything in the Universe that we know of!"

Revolutionary new camera reveals the dark side of the Universe
SCUBA-2 mounted on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. Credit: JAC

The project was led by STFC's UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) in Edinburgh in collaboration with a world-wide consortium of laboratories including four universities (British Columbia, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Waterloo), the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Joint Centre, which operates the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.

Professor Ian Robson, Director of UKATC, said: "The heart of SCUBA-2, the detector arrays, are a huge achievement; a world-first and the technological challenges in making them have been absolutely immense. It is equivalent to going from a primitive wind-on film camera that people over 50 might remember using straight to a modern digital camera all in one step. It is thanks to the ingenuity and abilities of our scientists and engineers that this immense leap in progress has been achieved."

UK, Canadian and Dutch researchers have pioneered observations of the sky in the submillimetre wavelength range (0.4 to 1 millimetre) through their partnership on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. SCUBA-2's predecessor, SCUBA (Submillimetre Common User Bolometer Array) produced many new and unexpected discoveries, from a previously unknown population of distant, dusty galaxies (known ever since as 'SCUBA galaxies'), to the first images of cold debris discs around nearby stars, which may indicate the presence of planetary systems.

Commenting on the performance of the new instrument, Professor Wayne Holland of UKATC, and the SCUBA-2 Project Scientist, said: "With SCUBA, it typically took 20 nights to image an area about the size of the full Moon. SCUBA-2 will be able to cover the same area in a couple of hours and go much deeper, allowing us to detect faint objects that have never been seen before."

The increased mapping speed and sensitivity of SCUBA-2 make it ideal for large-scale surveys; no other instrument will be able to survey the submillimetre sky in such exquisite detail. Dr. Antonio Chrysostomou, Associate Director of the JCMT said: "SCUBA-2's first task will be to carry out a series of surveys right across the heavens, mapping sites of star formation within our Galaxy, as well as planet formation around nearby stars. It will also survey our galactic neighbours and crucially, will look deep into space and sample the youngest galaxies in the Universe, which will be critical to understanding how have evolved since the Big Bang."

The data obtained by these surveys will allow a new and precise understanding of star formation throughout the history of the universe, and complements research being carried out on other telescopes such as the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), currently undergoing commissioning in Chile.

Explore further: Mixing in star-forming clouds explains why sibling stars look alike

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HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2011
Put Gerrit Verschuur on that thing pronto!
rawa1
1 / 5 (7) Dec 06, 2011
"When you look up at the stars, you only see the light they are emitting in the visible part of the spectrum."
IMO the definition of parallel Universe begins just here. If we can see different objects in different wavelenght, we are just observing the hyperdimensional slices of metauniverse.
that_guy
5 / 5 (5) Dec 06, 2011
"When you look up at the stars, you only see the light they are emitting in the visible part of the spectrum."
IMO the definition of parallel Universe begins just here. If we can see different objects in different wavelenght, we are just observing the hyperdimensional slices of metauniverse.

WTF?

I have never heard anyone try to link submillimeter EM observations to parallel universes. That's like saying the sun is a parallel universe.

Are you sure that you're talking about the same empirical science that I am?

Could it be that the scientists just wanted to better be able to quantify the dust and structure of the observable universe? Or is that too simple for you?
Shinichi D_
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 06, 2011
"IMO the definition of parallel Universe begins just here. If we can see different objects in different wavelenght, we are just observing the hyperdimensional slices of metauniverse."

A bat doesn't live in a parallel universe, just because it can sense things in a different way.
Callippo
1 / 5 (5) Dec 06, 2011
Nope, I'm just saying, the multiverse concept of string theorists, in which the observable reality is forming a low dimensional slice of hyperdimensional reality covers the observation of reality at different wavelengths. These slices are connected somehow, so you will see a smooth transitions. The general relativity and quantum mechanics theories are describing such a four dimensional slices of infinite-dimensional Universe too. If you will formulate them in sufficient number of dimensions, these theories will converge mutually into single one.
that_guy
5 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
Nope, I'm just saying, the multiverse concept of string theorists, in which the observable reality is forming a low dimensional slice of hyperdimensional reality covers the observation of reality at different wavelengths.


If I know that gravity pulls the water down a hillside to create a stream, I do not need to invoke God to explain it, as god is a superfluous redundant explanation for the basic workings of a stream.

If I already know how electromagnetic radiation works, the wavelengths, how atoms absorb and re-radiate energy (Absorbtion and emission lines, etc.) There is no reason to invoke extra dimensions, or even look, using that method - We know how it works, and unless there is a deviation from what we expect, there is no reason to pursue alternate explanations.

Also, String theory is currently unprovable - no experiment has been formulated or conceived that can prove or disprove string theory. So SM telescopes and String Theory have shit to do with each other.
Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
A bat doesn't live in a parallel universe, just because it can sense things in a different way.
Bats live in the inverse space-time with time and space dimensions exchanged. We are measuring the time intervals with space intervals, observed with transverse waves of light - but the bats are determining the space intervals with auditing of tine intervals, mediated with longitudinal waves of sound in air, which represents a tiny supersymmetric atmosphere of inverted space-time around Earth. I.e. something, which could exist bellow event horizons of black holes too. If you'll pass through event horizon, the space and time dimension will switch their roles too.

htttp://www.aetherwavetheory.info/images/physics/blackhole/blackholefallpart.gif
Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
String theory is currently unprovable - no experiment has been formulated or conceived that can prove or disprove string theory
String theory can be never proven, because it's based on mutually inconsistent postulate set (it leads into fuzzy landscape of solutions). But the idea of extradimensions is very natural instead. Why to throw out the baby with the bath water?

The problem is, the people don't understand the concept of extradimensions at all - even the people, who developed it originally. The extradimensions are all around us, which makes the multiverse concept very common too. It just needs a bit of consequential thinking to understand it.
For example, completelly flat and empty space is indeed three-dimensional. But is such space 3D, if it contains a tiny gravity lens?
And/or different example: All forces which do follow the inverse square law are forces operating in 3D space. But many common life forces do not follow the inverse square law, so they're not 3D anymore.
Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
With the decreasing size scale the number of dimensions increases significantly. The eyes of insects are adopted to it - they're composite and as such hyperdimensional. Even the dances and thinking of bees is hyperdimensional. The larger organisms have "3D" eyes, but they're still able to recognize the polarized light (birds). The polarization of light is manifestation of extradimensions too.
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (3) Dec 06, 2011
Umm, doesnt this refute the existance of the green house effect where the cooler atmosphere warms the hotter surface:

"SCUBA-2 has been designed to detect extremely low energy radiation in the submillimetre region of the spectrum. To do this, the instrument itself needs to be even colder."

Maybe this device should be destroyed in the interests of post-normal alarmism.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
Why can't these scientists do something capitalist for a change rather than stealing my money... Something useful like coming up with a new flavor of ice cream, or a new fabric pattern design, or a new cut for a swim suit?

I'm tired of their program of scientific anti-capitalist investigation.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2011
It just needs a bit of consequential thinking to understand it.

And a little bit of marijuana too. Seriously, you are a little delusional and should either speak to a mathematician, psychiatrist, or both.

If we can see different objects in different wavelenght, we are just observing the hyperdimensional slices of metauniverse.


Really Rawa? how do you go from being the voice of reason yesterday on that dark matter article to being totally off the wall today? The molecules in our retinas does not have anything to do with multiple dimensions. NOTHING.

vega12
5 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
rawa/Callippo is just trolling guys.

Anyway, a step up in observational techniques/equipment can only be a good thing.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
The molecules in our retinas does not have anything to do with multiple dimensions. NOTHING.
..??? I didn't say, the molecules in our retinas have something to do with multiple dimensions... If yes, then it's your private theory - not mine..
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
Also, String theory is currently unprovable - no experiment has been formulated or conceived that can prove or disprove string theory.

Yes. string theory is, as yet, unscientific.
a) No proposed test
b) It has free variables so that any observation can be made to fit with the theory (i.e. string theory is not falsifiable)

Calippo/rawa/Zephyr/whoever you think you are today:
Please look up what "dimension" means.
Then look up what "extra" means.
Then try to understand what "extra dimension" means.
and then understand what you are saying has NOTHING to do with this concept.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
Yes. string theory is, as yet, unscientific.
a) No proposed test
b) It has free variables so that any observation can be made to fit with the theory (i.e. string theory is not falsifiable)

Calippo/rawa/Zephyr/whoever you think you are today:
Please look up what "dimension" means.
Then look up what "extra" means.
Then try to understand what "extra dimension" means.
and then understand what you are saying has NOTHING to do with this concept.


I have heard that some versions of string theory have been disproved due to false prediction - we have ruled out a few versions.

Right now there are limits on which ST's can be plausible. There are some proposed tests to narrow it down, but they are quite out of our ability to do.

So for the time, I basically discount anything ST related, because it cannot be tied in to reality. Is an interesting thought experiment though.

Your comments to caliraphyr are perfect :)
vega12
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
I have heard that some versions of string theory have been disproved due to false prediction - we have ruled out a few versions.

Right now there are limits on which ST's can be plausible. There are some proposed tests to narrow it down, but they are quite out of our ability to do.

So for the time, I basically discount anything ST related, because it cannot be tied in to reality. Is an interesting thought experiment though.


The problem is, there are two basic ways to try to extend quantum field theory in ways to try to get beyond Standard model physics: assume presence of supersymmetry (the only extra symmetry that the S-matrix can have), or assume no longer point particles but 1D extended objects are quantized. We are at a point where theoretical physics has surpassed current experimental limits, so we have to make progress using symmetries and physical understanding to decide which direction to go. This leads to supersymmetry and string theory as potential avenues.