Expo/Science & Industry/Whispers From the Cosmos

| Back | Map | Glossary | Information |

Unveiling the Hidden Universe

Optical image, Orion Nebula, showing star nurseries. STI animation of star formation. SDSC’s solar system animation. Optical image of spiral galaxy. Radio image of NGC 1068

Deep inside a gigantic cloud of gas and dust, a star is born, a new solar system in the making. Stretching light years across, the surrounding cloud is rich in elements from which stars, planets, even life itself may evolve. On a yet grander scale, the chemistry of a distant galaxy's core, otherwise shrouded in dust,is revealed. All of these exotic objects would remain largely hidden from view, were it not for the radio waves they emit.

Trucking shots of array. Long shot from the valley. Still graphic showing radio waves in mm region of EM spectrum.

It takes a powerful radiotelescope to detect the faint radio emissions from the depths of space. Located in a remote valley in northern California, the Berkeley-Maryland-Illinois Association's radio synthesis array probes the heavens in the millimeter wavelength region of the radio spectrum.

Animation from BIMA video. Radio images of S106, possibly an animated time series of images..

By combining the incoming signals from distinct pairs of dishes, the array can image a distant object's shape and structure, and reveal much about its chemistry and motion.

CM-5 shots, along w/ Convex, Cray Y-MP, etc. Beckman Inst. & ACB exteriors.

But doing so requires high speed connections to advanced computational facilities. For the BIMA array, imaging, the reduction of mountains of data to intelligible pictures, is performed two time zones away, on powerful computers (link to computers exhibit) at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

2-shot of Dick Crutcher & Doug Roberts discussing image at workstation.Tight shot

on screen image..

Here astronomers and computer scientists are leading a multicenter "Grand Challenge" collaboration. Their mission is to prototype new computational tools and techniques for rapid data analysis and imaging, and electronic archiving of the results for researchers worldwide.

Meixner, Crutcher, Welch at Hat Creek observing HCN emissions from NGC 1068. Blitz et al at UMD observing the same image.

Embracing researchers at the Universities of Maryland, Illinois and California at Berkeley, this ambitious project will hasten the arrival of "real-time" astronomy. In decades to come, scientists will control faraway instruments, monitor image formation and display as the data is collected, then later analyze the results collaboratively, all of this in real- time, without having to leave their offices. As a result, the research process, from collection of raw data to discovery will accelerate by leaps and bounds.

Low angle shots of BIMA dishes in motion. Long shot, Forester and Welch walking along array. Use a most striking BIMA radio image to end the piece.

The BIMA array. Pioneering the radioastronomy of the future, in which arrays will span whole continents and image the radio universe with unparalleled efficiency and precision.

Back to Whispers from the Cosmos Home Page

Exhibit Map
Glossary
Information Center

Copyright © 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois