X-Ray Astronomy, Airport Safety & Medication – Astronotes
This week’s Astronomy & You article covers the connection between the on a regular basis makes use of of x-ray and the way it originated in astronomy. This piece is by Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s Michael Burton. He’s our Director and earlier than coming to Armagh was the Director of Educating on the College of
This week’s Astronomy & You article covers the connection between the on a regular basis makes use of of x-ray and the way it originated in astronomy. This piece is by Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s Michael Burton. He’s our Director and earlier than coming to Armagh was the Director of Educating on the College of Physics within the College of New South Wales in Australia. He’s additionally the President of the Worldwide Astronomical Union’s Division B (“Amenities, Know-how, Knowledge Science”).
The design of telescopes capable of measure the radiation produced by among the highest vitality phenomena within the cosmos has led on to the event of scanning units used for safety scanning in airports. It has additionally discovered utility in medical imaging analysis by way of the strategy of computer-assisted tomography, or CAT scans.
Constructing a telescope to focus energetic radiation corresponding to X-rays requires a radically completely different method from that utilized in conventional telescopes. Optical telescopes use lenses or mirrors to focus seen mild. X-rays can’t be targeted on this approach as a result of they’ve a lot vitality that they merely cross by way of the supplies utilized in conventional telescope designs. As an alternative, use of grazing-incidence mirrors make it doable to focus incoming X-rays from a big amassing space onto a small detector, the place they will then be measured.
don’t penetrate the Earth’s environment.
So, the primary telescope designed for X-ray astronomy needed to be put into
area – the Uhuru X-ray telescope.
The Uhuru Telescope. Credit score: Smithsonian Archive of Astrophysics
discovery of the brilliant supply of X-rays now often known as Scorpius X-1 with Uhuru
was ground-breaking. Right here was an object
that emitted a thousand occasions extra X-rays than the Solar, and a thousand occasions
extra vitality in X-rays than in seen mild!
Clearly, it was a brand new class of stellar object by which unknown bodily
processes have been going down. The X-rays
from Scorpius X-1 have been then interpreted because the vitality launched as matter falls
down an intense gravitational properly from a star onto the floor of a neutron
star that it’s orbiting.
X-Ray Astronomy – Picture of Scorpius X-1. Credit score: College of Chicago
thrilling was the invention utilizing X-rays that, in what was considered empty
area inside and round clusters of galaxies, there existed a low-density
plasma (atoms ionized of their electrons) at temperatures of tens of millions of
levels. Furthermore, this extraordinarily sizzling
fuel contained extra mass than in all the celebs in these galaxies. This tenuous materials might solely be noticed in
X-rays. Its discovery and subsequent
research opened new areas of analysis into how galaxies have shaped. X-ray astronomy has basic significance
as a result of high-energy phenomena play a vital position within the dynamics and evolution
of the universe.
The event of X-ray and gamma ray telescopes to undertake this analysis offered the technical instruments which have led to essential developments with corresponding social penalties. It led on to the gamma ray imaging applied sciences used for safety scanning at airports for harmful supplies.
Scan of Baggage in an airport safety examine. Picture supply: TSA
The design of telescopes capable of measure the radiation produced by among the highest vitality phenomena within the cosmos has discovered utility in medical imaging analysis by way of the strategy of computer-assisted tomography or CAT scans. These are used for medical imaging of the physique in three dimensions, providing higher decision and higher diagnostic accuracy than conventional X-rays for detecting most cancers and different critical medical circumstances.
A giant white donut? No, it’s a CAT Scanner. Picture supply: NHS