26 September 2023

Digital Technology Guru

Digital Technology Guru Reviews

The Use of Spectroscopy in Telescopes: Revealing the Invisible

2 min read
The Use of Spectroscopy in Telescopes: Revealing the Invisible

Telescopes are powerful instruments used to observe and study celestial objects. They utilize various imaging techniques to detect different wavelengths of light, allowing scientists to explore the mysteries of the universe. While some telescopes operate in visible light, others work in wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye.

An example of such a telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which has instruments like NIRCam and MIRI that operate in near-infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths, respectively. These instruments capture images that are then translated into colors to mimic visible light for human interpretation. This enables researchers to see cosmological events and objects that are invisible to the naked eye.

Telescopes also incorporate spectrometers, which analyze the specific wavelengths of light emitted an object. The process of spectroscopy provides a wealth of information about the object, including its size, distance, spin, and chemical composition. Spectroscopy is particularly useful in studying distant objects that may appear as just a few pixels in an image captured a telescope.

NASA’s upcoming X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) aims to further advance the field of spectroscopy. The mission will utilize a microcalorimeter spectrometer called Resolve to analyze X-rays within a specific energy range. This spectroscopic data will allow scientists to obtain a detailed understanding of high-energy light.

Webb, on the other hand, specializes in capturing spectra for infrared light. This information is crucial for studying exoplanets, which are often too dim and distant for direct imaging. Webb’s Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) enables researchers to analyze the absorption patterns of light passing through exoplanet atmospheres. By studying these transmission spectra, scientists can identify key gases and make inferences about the planet’s composition and even the possibility of supporting life.

Spectroscopy plays a vital role in uncovering the hidden characteristics of celestial objects and expanding our knowledge of the universe. It allows us to see what is invisible to the human eye and provides valuable insights into the complexities of the cosmos.

(Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – YouTube)