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Looking through Many Windows

Millimeter Image of Star-forming Region "S106"

The roots of astronomy are well grounded in the work of pioneers such as Galileo, Kepler, and more recently, Messier. The scientific tradition they established was firmly grounded upon observation; optical observations in particular.

Through a multitude of scientific and technical advances in the 19th and 20th centuries, scientists discovered that visible light covers but a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They found out that each waveband, from gamma rays and X-rays to infrared light and radio waves, yields unique information about the cosmos.

In the past few decades, astronomers have learned to combine their observations from the different wavebands in order to forge an in-depth understanding of the universe. Visible and infrared light revealed the stars and planets, while radiowave observations demonstrated the existence of giant molecular clouds. Today, astronomers often study the same object through several wavebands, correlating the resulting images and spectrographic data in order to build a coherent understanding of its structure, composition and dynamics.

Many of the millimeter studies using the BIMA array are complemented by centimeter waveband data obtained at sites elsewhere, particularly the Very Large Array in Sorroco, New Mexico. Further insights result from optical and infrared observations requiring other telescopes or instruments.

Our Solar System

X-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared and millimeter observations, researchers are yielding new discoveries about the Solar System, home to planet Earth.

Stellar Nurseries

Combining millimeter, infrared and centimeter observations, astronomers trace heat flowing through massive clouds of gas and dust where stars are born.

Star Death

Scientists utilize infrared, centimeter and millimeter observations to map the ejection of material from a dying star into its surroundings.


Correlating observations across the spectrum, astrochemists are searching between the stars for life's molecular precursors, tracing their chemical reactions in the coldest regions of our galaxy.

The Galactic Center

Astrophysicists are conducting multiple waveband studies to seek out a black hole candidate lurking at the center of our galaxy.

Beyond Our Galaxy

Bound to each other gravitationally, two galaxies emit radio waves revealing interactions that could trigger star formation.

Lifting the Veil
Up to Seeing the Invisible

Exhibit Map
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NCSA. Last modified 11/10/95