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Astronomy

Current astronomy research programs at Haystack focus on important questions that captivate today’s astronomers. These inquiries pertain to the origin and evolution of the universe, the powerful variable emissions from galaxies and the black holes they contain, the births and deaths of stars, and the energy mechanisms in and around our Sun.

Tozzi redshift
Simulation of redshifted 21cm emission/ absorption at z~8.5, from Tozzi et al. (2000). The peak brightness is about 10 mK. The LFD EOR key project aims to characterize such structure, among other EOR diagnostics.

Haystack scientists use various observational techniques to probe the charged outer layers of the Sun that affects the Earth through the solar wind and geomagnetic storms.

Moving outward from the solar system, radio astronomers probe the interstellar medium by observing molecular "signatures" that provide information about the temperatures, densities and chemical compositions the regions around young stars and regions where stars are being born. High spatial resolution observations of maser emission around these young stars and around stars near the end of their life provide clues about how stars are born and how they die.

Haystack radio astronomers use high spatial resolution observing techniques to study the center of the Milky Way - thought to contain a black hole. Understanding the black hole in our Galaxy can provide clues to the origin of the Universe. Another vital clue to the origin of the Universe is the abundance of deuterium which is an isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron. The detection of the radio emission from deuterium has been considered one of the most important goals in radio astronomy — scientists at Haystack Observatory have recently detected this emission using a telescope specially designed for this purpose.

The most active and violently energetic objects are found far from the Milky Way and are strong radio emitters. Among these are starburst galaxies, active galactic nuclei, and quasars. High resolution radio observations show that these energetic object house powerful black holes at their cores — Haystack scientists observe these powerful energy emitters at ultra-high resolution, imaging regions that lie within a light-year of the central black hole.

New technology developments are being undertaken by Haystack scientists and engineers that will allow the study of the Epoch of Re-ionization (EOR). This is the time in the early universe when neutral hydrogen was ionized, leaving behind a transparent universe containing the first stars and galaxies. These results will provide a new understanding to how the Universe came to be and how it evolved.

Astronomy education programs at Haystack Observatory include the REU program, access to the 37-m radio telescope for undergraduate students and faculty and the development and use of a commercially available Small Radio Telescope (SRT).

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