XMM Newton

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Space telescopes are artificial satellites or space probes that is used for the observation of planets and other celestial bodies.

In the cover image you can see XMM-Newton space observatory is the flagship of European X-ray Astronomy   Credit: web “esa.int”.

The advantage of space telescopes

The advantage of having a space observatory beyond the atmosphere is mainly due to the fact that in this way the effects of visual distortion produced by the atmosphere are eliminated.

Furthermore, electromagnetic radiation is highly absorbed by the atmosphere at certain wavelengths, especially in the infrared; therefore, the quality of the images obtained with ground-based telescopes decreases.

This page provides a brief overview of 12 observatories.

  • HUBBLE – SPITZER – CHANDRA – XMM NEWTON
  • SOHO – COBE – WMAP – WEBB
  • HERSCHEL – PLANCK – KEPLER – FERMI.

It is certain that within a few years the Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Russian telescopes will have to be added.

White Dwarf
Ancient white dwarf explosión Credit: web “newatlas.com”

Where is better to install telescopes?

The Earth’s atmosphere inevitably absorbs part of the radiation reaching the Earth’s surface from space.

Therefore, although places with exceptional visibility conditions are chosen, such as Hawaii, the Atacama desert in Chile; the Canary Islands and the Sierra in Baja California, the images are not received in optimal conditions.

Spotting scopes are also affected by meteorological factors and by light pollution caused by large urban settlements. Hence the difficulty in finding suitable sites to install telescopes.

Andromeda
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as the Spiral Galaxy M30 or NGC 224. Credit: Wikipedia

Therefore, the ideal site for astronomical observation is located outside the Earth’s atmosphere. According to some astronomers, one of the ideal sites would be on the far side of the Moon.

The most energetic waves such as ultraviolet rays, X-rays and gamma rays can only be observed with satellite telescopes or in balloons.

With the beginning of the space age, astronomical satellites, which orbit the Earth at a distance of about 1,000 km, opened the windows of the entire electromagnetic spectrum for astronomers to observe the Universe, especially by observing X-rays and some infrared rays.

The exploration of space using astronomical satellites offers new perspectives of fundamental importance.

NASA Astronomy Images presented in week 52 of 2009 a video of 3:10 minutes with only music and images of the sky obtained with orbital telescopes.

Herschell telescope. Space telescopes
Herschel space telescope. Credit: web “esa.int”

Orbital telescopes will allow astronomical observation more than a billion light years from the Solar System, because it increases the observable depth of the Universe 350 times, compared to what was had at the end of the 20th century.

This potentiality will increase notably when some spacecraft go further into the Milky Way.

Hubble space telescopes

Hubble is perhaps the orbital observatory best known to public opinion.

Hubble space telescopes
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Earth and the Moon  Credit: web “spacetelescope.org”

Named in honor of the North American astronomer Edwin Hubble, it is a robotic telescope installed at the outer edges of the atmosphere, in a circular orbit around the Earth, 593 km above sea level.

It was put into orbit on April 24, 1990 as a joint project of NASA and ESA.

Spitzer telescope

The Spitzer Observatory is dedicated to the capture of infrared waves.

The Spitzer Space Telescope, 85 cm in diameter, was launched in August 2003 and is part of NASA’s Large Observatories Program.

Spitzer Space telescopes
In January 2020 NASA retired the Spitzer Space Telescope after an incredible 16 years of exploring deep space. Credit: web “express.co.uk/news/science

It is a key piece in the program for the “astronomical search for the origins of the Universe.” Spectacular photographs have been captured with it, such as some of the RCW49 Nebula.

XMM-Newton Space telescopes

The XMM-Newton Observatory (X-ray Multi-mirror Mission) is an X-ray space observatory of ESA, the European Space Agency.

XMM Newton Space telescopes
XMM-Newton space observatory is the flagship of European X-ray Astronomy   Credit: web “esa.int”

Initially, the mission was to last two years. Due to its good operation, it was decided to extend it for another eight years and it is expected that the XMM will be able to operate until 2010.

XMM was the first observatory to detect the influence of the gravitational field of a neutron star.

Chandra telescope

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is an artificial satellite launched by NASA on July 23, 1999, 23 years after the initial proposal.

It was named after the British-based Indian physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, one of the founders of astrophysics.

Chandra Space telescopes
Chandra X-ray Observatory  Credit: web “nasa.gov/missions”

The Chandra is expected to be operational until 2013.

It is the third of NASA’s Great Space Observatories.

It followed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton (gamma ray, launched in 1991), but is the former fully equipped for X-ray capture.

SOHO telescope

The SOHO Observatory is dedicated exclusively to observing the Sun. It is a joint project of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

SOHO 2 Space telescopes
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) Credit: web “britannica.com/topic”

It is a remote-controlled spacecraft designed to constantly observe the Sun (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory).

It was built in Europe by an industrial team headed by MATRA. The instruments that the ship carries were designed by scientists from the United States and Europe.

COBE space telescopes

The COBE Observatory dedicated to studying background radiation.

COBE Space telescopes
The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) Credit: web “Science.nasa.gov/missions/”

It is a remote-controlled spacecraft designed to constantly observe the Sun (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory).

It was built in Europe by an industrial team headed by MATRA. The instruments that the ship carries were designed by scientists from the United States and Europe.

WMAP space telescopes

The WMAP probe succeeded COBE in the study of background radiation.

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) named after David Wilkinson, a member of the mission’s science team and a pioneer in the study of background radiation.

WMAP
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)  Credit: web “wmap.gsfc.nasa.gov/misión”

WMAP is a probe launched by NASA and its mission is to study the sky and measure the temperature differences observed in the microwave background radiation, a remnant of the Big Bang.

Webb telescope

The James Webb Observatory will be launched in 2021.

Webb
The James Webb Space Telescope  Credit: web “esa.int”

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a space observatory scheduled to launch in 2021 to study the sky in infrared frequency.

Its launch is planned for the year 2021. It will be built and operated as a joint project of NASA and ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Kepler telescope

On Friday March 6, 2009, NASA launched from Cape Canaveral the “Kepler” telescope mounted on a Delta II rocket that took the telescope into another orbit, not around the earth, but around the Sun.

Kepler
Artist’s rendition of the Kepler spacecraft. Credit: Wendy Stenzel web “britannica.com/topic”

The Kepler mission will last three and a half years, and its objective is to search for planets similar to Earth.

During this time, the telescope will observe about 100,000 stars simultaneously and every 30 minutes, in the area of ​​the constellations of Swan and Lyra, both in the Milky Way, in an area where there are stars of composition and age very similar to those of the Sun.

Herschel telescope

On May 14, 2009, the European Space Agency ESA put into orbit with a single Ariane 5 rocket, launched from the Kurou space base, in French Guiana, two space telescopes: the Herschel and the Planck.

Herschel
Herschel space telescope. Credit: web “esa.int”image description

Herschel is the largest telescope ever sent into space, with a 3.5 meter diameter mirror.

In addition, Herschel is equipped with an original and modern infrared vision system that according to ESA will capture images with a resolution never before achieved and will allow it to penetrate the vision of the universe through frozen dust clouds.

Planck telescope

On May 14, 2009, the European Space Agency ESA put into orbit with a single Ariane 5 rocket, launched from the Kurou space base, in French Guiana, two space telescopes: the Herschel and the Planck.

The mission of the Planck telescope is to scrutinize the early period of the universe, in the first years after the Big Bang, by detecting infrared radiation.

The Planck will be able to map in one day what would have taken its predecessors 400 years.

Planck
Planck Space telescope. Credit: web “nasa.gov”

The mission of the Planck telescope is to scrutinize the early period of the universe, in the first years after the Big Bang, by detecting infrared radiation.

The Planck will be able to map in one day what would have taken its predecessors 400 years.

Fermi telescope

On June 11, 2008, NASA placed the Fermi telescope into a low circular orbit (550 km high), named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954).

Fermi was a pioneer in the field of physics of high energies; Enrico Fermi’s theories provide the foundation for understanding the new discoveries of this telescope that bears his name.

Fermi
Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope  Credit: web “spacenews.com”

The Fermi telescope aims to study the sources of gamma rays in the universe and is funded by NASA and other research agencies in the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

NASA Astronomy Images presented in week 52 of 2009. It is a 3 minute video with only music and images of the sky obtained with orbital telescopes. Click here to see the video.

Gallery of the best images provided by the Spitzer Space Telescope Project Department of Education, NASA and JPL. Click here to access the web.