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.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Crab_Nebula.jpg









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.
http://integral.esa.int/26al_map_annotated.jpg

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