The Multiwavelength Universe

The Multiwavelength Universe

The Multiwavelength Universe

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 20 2005 9:24 PM

The Multiwavelength Universe

This has been an interesting BABlog week! I decided to dome some 'splainin, and it's gone a bit farther than I expected. We covered galaxies, black holes, a weird moon, and a big chunk of the old electromagnetic spectrum.

That last bit is really something. I have found that despite it being a national science standard for middle school, most people understand the EM spectrum fairly poorly. There are lots of reasons for this, and I won't go into them here. Instead, I'll show you how cool looking at things with "different eyes" is.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Oh, wait. I don't need to do this. I have friends who already have! The folks at the Spitzer Space Telescope have a pretty good outreach group, and they have a wonderful series of web pages called Cool Cosmos. That's a pun, actually: Spitzer, which is an infrared telescope, looks at objects considered to be cooler than your typical cosmic objects like stars and nebulae.

Anyway, they have a page there called The Multiwavelength Astronomical Gallery, where they have images of lots of objects in different wavelengths of the EM spectrum. Most objects look pretty when viewed in optical light, but by checking out their appearance in, say, X_rays, you can see if they have magnetic fields, or black holes, or other exotic phenomena lurking in their hearts.

And sometimes it's just weird. What do you think this thing is?

Give up? It's the Moon! Yes, really! It was taken by the 140 foot radio telescope in West Virginia. The red parts are brighter in radio, and represent warmer regions of the Moon. The Moon was probably a few days past full when this image was made.

That page has pictures galore of galaxies, nebulae, planets, and all sorts of beautiful and weird objects. Perusing the rest of the site is a treat as well. It's always best to learn stuff by having fun, and you get to see some amazing images as a bonus.

So take a look. It'll open your eyes.