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Making the Sky Dark with Dr Simon Ellis, AAO

Friday 14 October 2011 - 8:00pm
Topic: Making the Sky Dark
Speaker: Dr Simon Ellis, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract: Observing in the infrared is beneficial for many areas of astronomy: low mass stars emit almost all their light in the infrared, infrared light passes easily through dust clouds allowing us to see into intrinsically dusty star-forming regions, the light from very distant objects is redshifted into the infrared. Unfortunately, observing in the infrared is very challenging due to extremely bright emission from the earth's atmosphere; the signal from astronomical objects is lost in the glare from the atmosphere. A solution to this problem is so desirable that NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency are spending US$5 billion to launch the James Webb Space Telescope to avoid the atmosphere altogether. At the Australian Astronomical Observatory and the University of Sydney we have developed a novel technology to solve this problem from the ground. Most of the atmospheric emission is in the form of narrow emission lines emitted by OH molecules. We have developed a process which prints extremely complicated filters within fibre optics. These filters selectively remove the emission from the OH lines, and leave the rest of the signal intact, effectively making the sky dark. We have recently finished building and installing GNOSIS, the first instrument to employ this technology. I will describe how GNOSIS works, the first results from the instrument and the advantages it offers infrared astronomy.

 

Event Date: 
Friday, 14 October, 2011 - 20:00

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