Electromagnetic spectrum is the whole array of electromagnetic waves that are characterized with different wavelengths. This includes gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet waves, visible light, infrared waves, microwaves and radio waves. Gamma rays have the shortest wavelengths (no longer than 0.01 nm) and the highest energy. Radio waves have the longest wavelengths (over 1 m) and the lowest energy. A rainbow displays the visible range of the spectrum.
The motion at microscopic level is responsible for most of the electromagnetic radiation emitted from macroscopic objects. The type of the radiation emitted by an object is determined by its temperature. The higher the temperature of an object higher is the motion of the particles that it is made of, hence higher the energy. High energy waves have high frequencies and short wavelengths.
Some objects in the universe emit mostly infrared radiation while others may emit mostly visible light or ultraviolet radiation. Some objects can emit across a range of wavelengths. There are many astronomical objects that are completely invisible at one wavelength, but are clearly visible at another wavelength. Hence, to get a complete picture of the universe we need to observe the universe across the whole spectrum.
Many of the wavelengths of electromagnetic spectrum cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. It is in the first half of the 20th century it was revealed that there are radiations other than visible light that provide information about the universe. In the second half of the 20″ century, various techniques were developed to focus and detect a variety of wavebands. By comparing the images taken from space telescopes under different wavelengths a better picture of the universe has built up.
A space telescope is a telescope located in outer space to observe distant planets, galaxies and other astronomical objects. The goal for telescopes in every waveband is to collect much light as possible and focus a sharp detailed image on a detector.
NAZA’s Spritzer space telescope
Used to study comets and asteroids, count stars, scrutinize planets and galaxies, and to discover soccer-ball- shaped carbon spheres in space called buckyballs.
NASA’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
Took some of the most historic pictures of our cosmos during its 15 plus years in orbit. (The camera that saved Hubble Space Telescope)
SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA)
Allow to take pictures of sun at multiple temperatures and at resolutions never before seen.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory
Help to obtain X-ray images of exotic environments to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe.
Gamma ray telescopes
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
Used to explore high energy processes associated with solar flares, spinning neutron stars, outbursts from black holes and to explore stars and supernova remnants.
Science Concepts: Multiwavelength Astronomy – Jodrell Bank
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