From astrobites: “All-sky spectroscopy with SDSS-V”

Astrobites bloc


Title: SDSS V: Pioneering Panoptic Spectroscopy
Authors: Juna A. Kollmeier, Gail Zasowski, Hans-Walter Rix, et al.
First Author’s Institution: Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC

Status: submitted to arXiv, open access

“Our human eyes are the tools that peek at the secrets of the night sky”, so said the ancient Chinese astronomers who witnessed the supernova of the Crab Nebula in 1054 AD. But the heavens only truly light up through the lenses of telescopes, allowing us not only to peer into, but also to peel away, the mysteries of our Universe. We started out in 1609 with Galileo’s 37 mm refracting telescope, proceeded to Newton’s 150 mm reflecting telescope in 1668, and leapfrogged to William Herschel’s 49 inch (125 cm) reflector in 1789, which held the record as the world’s largest telescope for the next 50 years. Two hundred years later, not only do we have artificial eyes in space constantly staring deeper into the infancy of the Universe, we also have all sky maps in various wavelengths of light and larger telescopes from the ground, with bigger and more ambitious programs already lined up for the next five to ten years. As an astronomer in training, I never fail to be amazed by the giant leaps we have made over the course of human history.

Even so, we are still only scratching the surface.

Astronomers are not strangers to sky surveys. Among the tens of sky surveys, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is probably the king of them all, having been in operation since 2000, with WISE and ROSAT chasing its tail for being truly all-sky.

SDSS Telescope at Apache Point Observatory, NM, USA, Altitude 2,788 meters (9,147 ft)

NASA/WISE Telescope

DLR/NASA ROSAT satellite

However, all surveys to date, both full- and partial-sky, have been imaging surveys. There is no yet a full-sky spectroscopic survey — at least not until SDSS-V.

Figure 1: A schematic of SDSS-V, an all-sky spectroscopic survey. The main science programs are the Milky Way Mapper, the Black Hole Mapper, and the Local Volume Mapper. Observations will be carried out in both hemispheres using telescopes at the Apache Point and Las Campanas Observatories. [Figure 1 in paper]

See the full article here .

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Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
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Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
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