Saturday, March 29, 2008

Nucleosynthesis & Fine Spectroscopy?

One of the groups of undergraduate Physics and Astronomy, and Engineering students from the University of Southampton on the Design in Gamma-ray Astronomy course in Tenerife had been given the area of 'Nucleo-synthesis and Fne Spectroscopy' to research. What's that?

James Pettler in Group 4 explained that his group wanted to observe the aftermath of a supernova - which thrusts out gases and heavy elements created as the star collapses. Fine spectroscopy is a method of identifying the radiation emitted by radioactive elements. This radiation will appear as lines on a spectrograph once they are detectected by the telescope.

The group is currently working on getting enough sensitivity from their telescope's detector. The elements that the students want to observe in space do not give out a huge amount of radiation, so the more sensitive the detector the better. Also, the larger the surface area on the detector the more sensitive - and the larger the field of view too. The field of view needs to be as large as possible to study a supernova and it needs to be larger than the angular resoloution - otherwise the image will be blurred. There is though, a limit to the size of the detector that the group can use - this is determined by the limit of mass that a rocket can launch into space.


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