Portal:Radiation astronomy

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Radiation astronomy
This image is a composite of several types of radiation astronomy: radio, infrared, visual, ultraviolet, soft and hard X-ray. Credit: NASA.

Radiation astronomy is astronomy applied to the various extraterrestrial sources of radiation, especially at night. It is also conducted above the Earth's atmosphere and at locations away from the Earth, by satellites and space probes, as a part of explorational (or exploratory) radiation astronomy.

Seeing the Sun and feeling the warmth of its rays is probably a student's first encounter with an astronomical radiation source. This will happen from a very early age, but a first understanding of the concepts of radiation may occur at a secondary educational level.

Radiation is all around us on top of the Earth's crust, regolith, and soil, where we live. The study of radiation, including radiation astronomy, usually intensifies at the university undergraduate level.

And, generally, radiation becomes hazardous, when a student embarks on graduate study.

Cautionary speculation may be introduced unexpectedly to stimulate the imagination and open a small crack in a few doors that may appear closed at present. As such, this learning resource incorporates some state-of-the-art results from the scholarly literature.

The laboratories of radiation astronomy are limited to the radiation observatories themselves and the computers and other instruments (sometimes off site) used to analyze the results.

Selected radiation astronomy

There is "a correlation between the arrival directions of cosmic rays with energy above 6 x 1019 electron volts and the positions of active galactic nuclei (AGN) lying within ~75 megaparsecs."

Some low energy cosmic rays originate or are associated with solar flares. Even these cosmic rays have too high an energy to originate from the solar photosphere. The coronal cloud in close proximity to the Sun may be a source or create them as it bombards the chromosphere from above.

"In particular we recognize a first trace of Vela, brightest gamma and radio galactic source, and smeared sources along Galactic Plane and Center [as a source of ultra high energy cosmic rays (UHECR)]." Read more...

Selected lecture

Radiation astronomy entities

This is an image of Johannes Vermeer's The astronomer. Credit: www.essentialvermeer.com : Home : Info : Pic.

Radiation astronomy entities, radiation entities, are any astronomical persons or things that have separate and distinct existences in empirical, objective or conceptual reality.

Some of them, like the astronomers of today, or at any time in the past, are relatively known. But there are many entities that are far less known or understood, such as the observers of ancient times who suggested that deities occupied the sky or the heavens. Likewise, these alleged deities may be entities, or perhaps something a whole lot less.

Astronomical X-ray entities are often discriminated further into sources or objects when more information becomes available, including that from other radiation astronomies.

A researcher who turns on an X-ray generator to study the X-ray emissions in a laboratory so as to understand an apparent astronomical X-ray source is an astronomical X-ray entity. So is one who writes an article about such efforts or a computer simulation to possibly represent such a source.

"The X-ray luminosity of the dominant group [an entity] is an order of magnitude fainter than that of the X-ray jet."[1]

References

  1. A. Finoguenov, M.G. Watson, M. Tanaka, C.Simpson, M. Cirasuolo, J.S. Dunlop, J.A. Peacock, D. Farrah, M. Akiyama, Y. Ueda, V. Smolčič, G. Stewart, S. Rawlings, C.vanBreukelen, O. Almaini, L.Clewley, D.G. Bonfield, M.J. Jarvis, J.M. Barr, S. Foucaud, R.J. McLure, K. Sekiguchi, E. Egami (April 2010). "X-ray groups and clusters of galaxies in the Subaru-XMM Deep Field". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 403 (4): 2063-76. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16256.x. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16256.x/full. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
Selected theory

Mathematical radiation astronomy

This animation depicts the collision between our Milky Way galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy. Credit: Visualization Credit: NASA; ESA; and F. Summers, STScI; Simulation Credit: NASA; ESA; G. Besla, Columbia University; and R. van der Marel, STScI.

Most of the mathematics needed to understand the information acquired through astronomical radiation observation comes from physics. But, there are special needs for situations that intertwine mathematics with phenomena that may not yet have sufficient physics to explain the observations. Both uses constitute radiation mathematics, or astronomical radiation mathematics, or a portion of mathematical radiation astronomy.

Astronomical radiation mathematics is the laboratory mathematics such as simulations that are generated to try to understand the observations of radiation astronomy.

The mathematics needed to understand radiation astronomy starts with arithmetic and often needs various topics in calculus and differential equations to produce likely models.

Selected topic

Backgrounds

This graph shows the power density spectrum of the extragalactic or cosmic gamma-ray background (CGB). Credit: pkisscs@konkoly.hu.

In the figure at right, CUVOB stands for the cosmic ultraviolet and optical background.

The diffuse extragalactic background light (EBL) is all the accumulated radiation in the Universe due to star formation processes, plus a contribution from active galactic nuclei (AGNs). This radiation covers the wavelength range between ~ 0.1-1000 microns (these are the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum). The EBL is part of the diffuse extragalactic background radiation (DEBRA), which by definition covers the overall electromagnetic spectrum. After the cosmic microwave background, the EBL produces the second-most energetic diffuse background, thus being essential for understanding the full energy balance of the universe.

Selected X-ray astronomy article
This is an artist's impression of an X-ray Binary. Credit: ESA, NASA, and Felix Mirabel (French Atomic Energy Commission and Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics/Conicet of Argentina).

An X-ray binary is a class of binary star that is luminous in X-rays.

The X-rays are produced by matter falling from one component, called the donor (usually a relatively normal star) to the other component, called the accretor, which is compact: a white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole. The infalling matter releases gravitational potential energy, up to several tenths of its rest mass, as X-rays. (Hydrogen fusion releases only about 0.7 percent of rest mass.)

Objects
Selected image
M31 Core in X-rays.jpg

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has imaged the center of the Andromeda galaxy. Like the Milky Way, Andromeda's galactic center appears to harbor an X-ray source characteristic of a black hole of a million or more solar masses. Seen above, the false-color X-ray picture shows a number of X-ray sources, likely X-ray binary stars, within Andromeda's central region as yellowish dots. The blue source located right at the galaxy's center is coincident with the position of the suspected massive black hole. While the X-rays are produced as material falls into the black hole and heats up, estimates from the X-ray data show Andromeda's central source to be very cold - only about million degrees, compared to the tens of millions of degrees indicated for Andromeda's X-ray binaries. Credit: S. Murray, M. Garcia, et al., Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA), NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris.

Selected lesson

First cyan source in Caelum

This is an image of NGC 1679 in Caelum. It is a spiral galaxy located two degrees south of Zeta Caeli. Credit: NASA/ESA (Wikisky).

The first cyan source in Caelum is unknown.

This is a lesson in map reading, coordinate matching, and searching. It is also a project in the history of cyan astronomy looking for the first astronomical cyan source discovered in the constellation of Caelum.

Nearly all the background you need to participate and learn by doing you've probably already been introduced to at a secondary level.

Some of the material and information is at the college or university level, and as you progress in finding cyan sources, you'll run into concepts and experimental tests that are an actual search.

To succeed in finding a cyan source in Caelum is the first step. Next, you'll need to determine the time stamp of its discovery and compare it with any that have already been found. Over the history of cyan astronomy a number of sources have been found, many as point sources in the night sky. These points are located on the celestial sphere using coordinate systems. Familiarity with these coordinate systems is not a prerequisite. Here the challenge is geometrical, astrophysical, and historical.

NGC 1679 in the image at left appears to contain some cyan, probably as a result of a mixture of light blue and yellow.

Selected quiz

Cosmic ray astronomy quiz

The cosmic-ray telescope collects data on the composition of the cosmic ray particles and their energy ranges. Credit: NASA.

Cosmic-ray astronomy is a lecture as part of the radiation astronomy course on the principles of radiation astronomy.

You are free to take this quiz based on cosmic-ray astronomy at any time.

To improve your score, read and study the lecture, the links contained within, listed under See also, External links, and in the {{principles of radiation astronomy}} template. This should give you adequate background to get 100 %.

As a "learning by doing" resource, this quiz helps you to assess your knowledge and understanding of the information, and it is a quiz you may take over and over as a learning resource to improve your knowledge, understanding, test-taking skills, and your score.

Suggestion: Have the lecture available in a separate window.

To master the information and use only your memory while taking the quiz, try rewriting the information from more familiar points of view, or be creative with association.

Enjoy learning by doing!

Selected laboratory

Cosmogony laboratory

This is an image of Chaos magnum from a book. Credit: Sailko.

This laboratory is an activity for you to create a universe. While it is part of the astronomy course principles of radiation astronomy, it is also independent.

Some suggested primordial entities to consider are electromagnetic radiation, neutrinos, mass, time, Euclidean space, Non-Euclidean space, dark matter, dark energy, purple phantoms, and spacetime.

More importantly, there are your primordial entities.

And, yes, you can create a universe from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if you wish to.

You may choose to define your primordial entities or not.

Usually, research follows someone else's ideas of how to do something. But, in this laboratory you can create these too.

This is an astronomy cosmogony laboratory, but you may create what an astronomy, a cosmogony, or a laboratory is.

Yes, this laboratory is structured. And, you are providing it. Or, not, an unstructured universe is okay too.

I will provide an example of a cosmogony. The rest is up to you.

Questions, if any, are best placed on the discussion page. Please put your laboratory results, you'd like evaluated, on the laboratory's discussion page.

Selected problems

Angular momentum and energy

This diagram describes the relationship between force (F), torque (τ), momentum (p), and angular momentum (L) vectors in a rotating system. 'r' is the radius. Credit: Yawe.

Angular momentum and energy are concepts developed to try to understand everyday reality.

An angular momentum L of a particle about an origin is given by

where r is the radius vector of the particle relative to the origin, p is the linear momentum of the particle, and × denotes the cross product (r · p sin θ). Theta is the angle between r and p.

Please put any questions you may have, and your results, you'd like evaluated, on the problem set's discussion page.

Enjoy learning by doing!

Selected X-ray astronomy pictures
ECARmulticolor4.tnl.jpg

Classified as a Peculiar star, Eta Carinae exhibits a superstar at its center as seen in this image from Chandra. The new X-ray observation shows three distinct structures: an outer, horseshoe-shaped ring about 2 light years in diameter, a hot inner core about 3 light-months in diameter, and a hot central source less than 1 light-month in diameter which may contain the superstar that drives the whole show. The outer ring provides evidence of another large explosion that occurred over 1,000 years ago. Credit: Chandra Science Center and NASA.

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