SWS - ISO's Short Wavelength Spectrometer

This is a picture of part of the short wavelength spectrometer.

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The picture shows part of the instrument which moves the spectrum across the detectors. It was prepared by the ISO SWS project team.

It spreads out the infrared light from the object it is observing into a spectrum. Distinguishing the component wavelengths like colours of a rainbow, it then measures the amount of light of each wavelength. These observations will tell an astronomer some of the chemical elements or molecules that are present. SWS has a facility for making more detailed observations of part of a spectrum which will tell astronomers the temperature and other details of the material they are studying.

SWS has told us a lot about the chemistry of astronomical objects. Here it is identifying the chemistry of some dust.

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This SWS observation was made by Astronomers at the universities of Amsterdam, Louvain, Groningen and Utrecht, and the optical images were taken by H. van Winckel, G. Weigelt and R. Osterbart at the European Southern Observatory.

The two visible light pictures show a binary star with an obscuring band of dust around the middle. The images are shown on the background of an SWS spectrum. The graph has bumps, indicated with tick marks, which are identified with a type of rock called Olivine. It is found as a very fine dust.

Last updated: 10 October 2001
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