What if we could look into the depths of the ancient universe? It could be that there is more reality to this statement than it sounds. After seven years of research, scientists from the University of California (UCLA) have managed to construct an instrument called ‘time machine’ which allows them to look at the most distant and ancient parts of the Universe.
This is the MOSFIRE spectrometer, which was built in Los Angeles, USA, and then moved to the W.M. Keck Observatory, at the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii. The construction of the instrument is a result of the teamwork of experts from several U.S. universities and organizations. The MOSFIRE weighs 5 tons and its construction cost 14 million dollars.
The spectrometer will collect infrared wavelengths invisible to the human eye, which will make it possible to penetrate cosmic dust and see the most distant objects in the Universe.
In reality, as scientists hope, the ‘time machine’ will be able to show the most ancient galaxies that are 10 billion years old, i.e. some of them formed shortly after the beginning of time, the so-called Big Bang.
On April 4, the MOSFIRE first saw light.
“We manage to look back in time at the period of formation of some of the first galaxies, which are small and very weak,” says Ian McLean, project leader and professor of physics and astronomy at the UCLA. “This is the period, which we need to study in order to understand the overall structure of the Universe.”
With the help of the spectrometer, astronomers now will have an opportunity to more easily detect small galaxies, as well as galaxy clusters. The instrument will also allow them to study in detail planets, which orbit the nearby stars; the star formation in our galaxy; the distribution of dark matter in the Universe, and much more.
After testing and evaluations in May and June, the astronomers expect to start using the instrument systematically from September. We are excited to see what the scientists will discover about the ancient universe.
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