View Full Version : Broad spectrum analysis equipment?

2009-Jul-04, 06:04 AM
Here is what I want be able to do (or know how to do):

Does any compact equipment exist to "scroll through" a large part of the spectrum. For example, optics are obviously needed to look at the light from a star - but say I want to look at its microwaves, then its x-rays. How integrated has astronomy equipment gotten? Have you ever heard of this? I say ease of use leads to discovery and realization (though it probably requires invention to an extent). What would be required?

P.S. I'm starting to familiarize myself with a friend's Celestron NexStar 4se. What do you think of this equipment? I've mostly done CS and IT, so naturally, I want to hook this thing up to a computer so I can subject it to automation/algorithms/recording/analysis - etc. Yet, it looks like it would take significant work to build such a system around this scope. What are some of the lowest profile computer-telescope systems people have built?

2009-Jul-04, 12:14 PM
Consider what is required to focus different parts of the E-M spectrum. All based on reflection, but dishes for radio waves, mirrors (or lenses) for light, rather different, glancing mirrors for X-rays, so that a wide scanning machine would need to be an amalgam of all these very different technologies. And for radio waves, rather big, too!


2009-Jul-04, 02:14 PM
You're mostly better off doing that in software, for two main reasons. One has been mentioned - we have to use quite different detector technologies and optical layouts to get any useful efficiency in different parts of the spectrum. And even in cases where you can use, say, CCD chips treated for reasonable efficiency in the near-UV, the scattering of more intense visible light in many diffraction gratings means that you're better off using a different detector which is "solar blind" - i.e. does not respond at all to long-wavelength radiation. Similarly, detectors that work well in the IR tend to lose their sensitivity much shortward of one micrometer.

A second factor is that for any but the brightest objects, exposure times for decent spectral signal-to-noise ratio are so long that the results aren't seen in real time anyway. There do exist a large number of targets for which one could, for example, load up archival spectra through the UV, optical spectra from the Sloan Digital Sy Survey, and IR spectra from ISO, IRAS, or Spitzer, and browse the results. One of the IRAS team did some interesting work (almost 25 years ago now!) on automated classification of their IR spectra - are there natural classes to those which we didn't know to look at or target for? One obvious advantage to such multiwavelength astrophysics is that the spectral features which are relevant to a particular physical process will not necessarily fall close together in wavelength.

2009-Jul-26, 08:23 AM
You're mostly better off doing that in software

Which software are you referring to - which have you used?

2009-Jul-27, 03:00 PM
bautforum backwards,,,original. To address your problem, in recent conventions, astronomical journals have made a mandatory sizing on imaging submitted to journals just to address that issue. Images must have a common conventional format so that when accessing a databank, you can easily superimpose images from all parts of the spectrum...radio, microwave, near & far infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X ray, and gamma ray. Subtle effects not otherwise noticed can sometimes be seen that way.
For an amateur, the forum on astrophotography has excellent members' knowledge and should prove a big help to you. For a rookie to try to image using all the systems the pros do is probably prohibitively expensive unless you are a billionaire, you are likely to be better off picking a specialty, or perhaps two, and trying to master that. Good luck. pete