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cso:science:overview [2013-09-07 03:18]
sradford [Characteristics]
cso:science:overview [2015-01-14 07:42] (current)
sradford
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 +====== Overview ======
  
 +
 +The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) is one of the world'​s premier facilities for astronomical research and instrumentation development. ​
 +
 +
 +With the CSO, astronomers from all over the world observe light naturally emitted by celestial objects at submillimeter wavelengths. ​
 +This spectral range, between infrared and radio, is particularly suited to studying the molecular gases and small solid dust particles ​
 +that fill the densest regions of the interstellar medium, where stars form as gas clouds contract and collapse under the pull of 
 +gravity. Star formation is best studied in the submillimeter and infrared because interstellar dust absorbs light at shorter wavelengths. ​
 +Near the end of their lives, certain stars eject copious amounts of material, forming circumstellar envelopes with a rich assortment
 +of molecules. Submillimeter observations of galaxies outside the Milky Way trace the history of star formation during the evolution ​
 +of the universe. Light from the most distant galaxy observed with the CSO was emitted 12 billion years ago.
 +
 +The telescope was designed by Prof. Robert B. Leighton and built at Caltech by Leighton and Prof. Thomas G. Phillips, the founding ​
 +CSO director. ​
 +The CSO was installed on Maunakea in 1985-7. ​
 +Eighty four lightweight hexagonal aluminum honeycomb ​
 +panels make up the primary mirror. An active system aligns these panels to maintain the smooth surface needed for submillimeter ​
 +observations. Spectrometers and cameras at the CSO use detectors developed at Caltech and other universities. For maximum ​
 +sensitivity,​ these detectors are cooled close to absolute zero temperature. New instruments are deployed as detector technology ​
 +advances. Because atmospheric water vapor absorbs submillimeter radiation, the CSO is located high on Maunakea to take advantage ​
 +of the very dry conditions. Most observations are made at night when the atmosphere is driest and most stable. As a university facility, ​
 +the CSO has a strong educational tradition: over 100 students from 25 institutions have used the CSO for doctoral research projects.
 +
 +The [[http://​www.caltech.edu|California Institute of Technology]] (Caltech) operates the CSO. The CSO is located on [[http://​www.ifa.hawaii.edu/​mko/​|Maunakea]] through an agreement with the [[http://​www.ifa.hawaii.edu|University of Hawai'​i]]. The [[http://​www.nsf.gov|National Science Foundation]] supported the CSO until 2013 March. Prof. [[http://​www.astro.caltech.edu/​~golwala/​|Sunil Golwala]] is the director of the CSO. 
 +
 +Further information about the [[..:​history:​history]] of the CSO. 
 +
 +==== Characteristics ====
 +
 +| Observing wavelengths: ​ | 2mm — 350 μm  |
 +| Primary mirror diameter: ​ | 10.4 m (34 feet) | 
 +| Surface accuracy: ​ | < 15 μm r.m.s. ​ | 
 +| Pointing accuracy: ​ | 3 arcsec r.m.s. ​ | 
 +| Highest angular resolution: ​ | 8 arcseconds ​ | 
 +| Location: ​ | Maunakea, Hawai'​i, ​ | 
 +|  | at 4070 m (13360 ft) altitude ​ |
 +
 + 
cso/science/overview.txt · Last modified: 2015-01-14 07:42 by sradford
 
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