TAUVEX Science Goals
Diffuse radiationThe observed diffuse UV radiation field is almost entirely due to starlight scattered by interstellar dust. With its wide field of view (0.9°) combined with the ability to reject stars because of its 2-dimensional imaging capability, TAUVEX will be able to trace the level of the astronomical diffuse radiation over the sky. There are other sources of radiation from the sky which have affected diffuse radiation measurements over the sky. The dark count rate from the instrument (the rate when no astronomical source is being observed) should be small and will be measured at intervals using a blocking filter. Terrestrial emission which often affects satellites in lower orbits will simply not be present at geostationary altitudes (except for the Lyman lines of hydrogen which will be blocked by the filters). Particularly in the near UV, zodiacal light - light from the Sun scattered by dust within our Solar System - will compete with the diffuse Galactic light and will have to be modelled and subtracted. Particularly important may be light from the Sun which is scattered into the field of view by the spacecraft or is internally scattered in the instrument. It will be an important part of the mission planning to ensure that this does not happen.
VariabilityBecause TAUVEX will continually scan over the sky, it is well suited for detecting variability on different time scales. We will build up depth in our fields by repeatedly passing over the same areas; depending on the sources to be observed we can choose our observation strategy such that we pass over specific objects at scientifically important intervals.
Deep SurveysGALEX will observe a large fraction of the sky, or perhaps even the entire sky, as part of its sky survey and will go deeper in selected areas such as the Hubble Deep Field. We have chosen as our operational policy during the first 18 months to observe some fraction of the sky - perhaps 15% - to a depth much greater than GALEX. In addition, as our first science target, we will observe an area of the sky near one of the Celestial poles for a few days to obtain an extremely deep image of the sky.
GalaxiesAs a UV imaging experiment with moderate spatial resolution and a large field of view, TAUVEX will address many of the standard problems in astronomy such as the star formation rate at low redshift. Nearby galaxies are so large that they cannot be observed in their entirety by an instrument such as the HST with its exquisite resolution over a small field of view. Thus we know relatively little about the star formation rate at low redshift - a topic which will be addressed by TAUVEX.
New areasPerhaps most importantly, every mission with a substantially new data set will yield new lines of scientific investigation, neither planned nor foreseen by the original investigators. We will make the data available to the Indian astronomical community through Archival Proposals and we welcome right now new ideas and collaborators.
TAUVEX Scientific Meetings
We have already held two Workshops for scientists from around the country. They have gathered considerable amount of interest and progressively help in consolidating the final science plan. We will conduct the third Workshop, where the final science plan and the final call for proposals will be presented, after the first 2 monsth ---PV phase--- is over and the Instrument capabilities were accessed and characterized.
As part of the scientific activity, TAUVEX team is conducting regular seminars, where different aspects of TAUVEX science and engineering is being discussed. This seminars are open to anyone interested and usually announced one week in advance.
Publications and Public Outreach
The TAUVEX team has been quite active with a few refereed publications and several conference papers. For example, here were 14 TAUVEX-related papers in 2007. This included a considerable amount of preparatory work, which is beginning to bear fruit with several more publications to appear shortly. This science work is crucial to the utilization of TAUVEX data and will continue.
While TAUVEX is a serious scientific instrument which will provide unique data and insights into many scientific problems, we must not forget that the prognosis for astronomy is quite poor in the country. As a discipline, we have underperformed and have significant problems in recruiting and retaining active researchers. We have also lost sight of the fact that most of the people in academics, both students and faculty, are in universities where the environment is not conducive to research.
We have made a special effort to reach out to the general community,
particularly the student community from whence the next generation of
astronomers will come. J. Murthy has given talks at many different
institutions in Bangalore and outside in which TAUVEX has been emphasized.
This has resulted in two press interviews - in
the Deccan Herald and
Also as a result of these talks, there have been more than 20 students
from colleges both inside and outside Bangalore who have worked on parts
of the TAUVEX mission. While most of them have gone to careers in industry,
they have nevertheless become brand ambassadors for TAUVEX and, more broadly,
for the Indian Institute of Astrophysics and even astronomy in general.
A noteworthy event was the exhibition on Observatories of the World at the Visveswariah Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM). With the help of the museum staff, we produced a TAUVEX poster which was displayed for several months at the museum and is now traveling around the country. We have also produced two further posters, which we plan to print and distribute.
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