What are you doing at Harwell Open Day?
We have professional astronomers and astrophysicists to answer any questions you have about space and the Universe ! We have a breathtaking model of the Herschel infrared space telescope with a full size model of one of the instruments ! Herschel is an in fared telescope and we will explain all about infrared light and astronomy with our hands-on infrared camera activity !
How does it relate to you work?
Only half of the light in the Universe can be seen with normal optical telescopes. The rest is emitted at longer infrared wavelengths. Young Stars are born within cocoons of dust, these young hot stars light is blocked from our eyes by the dust and gas. However, the young starlight heats up the dust and the dust re-emits the starlight as cooler infrared radiation.
In order to view infrared light, special cameras and telescopes are required. The Herschel Space Observatory is was designed to discover this infrared light. Herschel was the largest telescope ever launched into space in 2009 and has provided us with hundreds of amazing images of young stars and galaxies stretching back to the dawn of tim and the Big Bang !
At RAL Space, we assembled and tested the special SPIRE instrument on board Herschel that was ultra-sensitive to infrared light! At our exhibit you can find out all about Herschel, SPIRE and lnfrared light !
What is the take home message?
The Universe we see in the night sky isn’t all it seems !
Most of the new stars and galaxies being born are hidden from us.
The Universe looks different at different wavelengths (visible, infrared, X-ray, radio etc) and we need infrared telescope in order to reveal star birth in the Universe.
How long did you take to prepare for Harwell Open Day?
We have been preparing for Harwell open Day for around a month!
We have some quite big models, including a 1/4 size Herschel telescope so the logistics of moving these things from one part of the country to another is tough!
Why are you taking part in Harwell Open Day?
Space is ace ;-) We like to share with everybody !!