Supercool Astronomy – 27th January 2011

The speaker at our January meeting was Ian Robson. He gave us a talk titled Supercool Astronomy about discoveries made through observations using the sub-millimetre wavebands. He covered the history of this particularly challenging area of observational astronomy from early work at Pic du Midi in the late ’60s, and using high altitude balloons in the early ’70s, through work from Kitt Peak and Mt. Evans in the mid ’70s, to the UKIRT and most recently the James Clark Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii. He illustrated the development of sub-millimetre detectors, and looked forward to the next generation of detector, SCUBA-2, which is currently under development. He explained how it would complement the current Herschel Space Telescope and the ALMA array of ‘scopes in the Atacama. At stages along the way he showed us some of the discoveries made using sub-millimetre observations, including hidden star formation regions in our own galaxy, the surprising structures within some relatively nearby active galaxies, and some of the most distant (and oldest) objects which can ony be observed at these wavelengths.

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