UIT Images/Pictures from Astro1

BEYOND THE BLUE: Greatest Hits of the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope

A Collection of Slides and Information on Ultraviolet Astronomy, the Shuttle-borne Astro Observatory and the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) Experiment. (Excerpts)

The complete slide set and information booklet is the copyright of the
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
390 Ashton Avuenue, San Francisco, CA 94112
(800) 335-2624

  • Cutaway diagram of UITThe Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope

    The Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope is a reflecting telescope of the Ritchey-Chretien design, meaning that it is relatively compact, yet can image a wide field of veiw with very little distortion. Its primary mirror has a diameter of 38 cm (15 inch). This is sufficiently large for imaging a great variety of astronomical objects while conforming to the space constraints of the Shuttle-borne Astro observatory. The UIT optics differ from those of ground-based telescopes in that they have been optimized to work at ultraviolet wavelengths. Because UV waves are three times shorter than visible waves, the optical tolerances for precisely focusing these waves are three times more stringent. Also, the primary and secondary mirrors have been specially coated to efficiently reflect the incoming UV light. The biggest differences are at the back end of the telescope. Instead of a visible-light camera (such as the charge-coupled devices, or "CCDs" now used on many telescopes), the back end contains two electronic UV-sensitive cameras---one for the far-UV (wavelengths between 1300 and 1800 Angstroms) and one for the near-UV (wavelengths between 1800 and 3000 Angstroms).The image is recorded for posterity of photographic film. Compared to the rocket image of the Orion nebula, the images produced by UIT have a clarity (or "resolution") that is six times finer and a sensitivity to sources that is 25 times greater. Indeed, the UIT can not image the bright Orion nebula without risking damage to its sensitive detectors.

    Other Astro-1 Images/Pictures

  •  UV image of the Crab Nebula Crab Nebula

    This is an early-release image of a young supernova remnant. This image was taken by UIT during Astro-1 and is shown here in false-color.

  • UV image of  M74 M74

    This is an early-release image of the Grand Design spiral galaxy M74. This image was taken by UIT during Astro-1 and is shown here in false-color.

  • UV and optical images of M81 M81

    This is an early-release image of the bulge-dominated spiral galaxy M81, shown in the visible (left) and UV (right). The UV image was taken by UIT during Astro-1. Both images are shown here in false color.

  • UV image of Omega Centaurus Omega Centaurus

    This is an early-release image of the giant globular cluster Omega Centari. This image was taken by UIT during Astro-1 and is shown here in false-color.

  • UV image of SN1987a SN1987a

    This is an early-release image of the giant HII region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The supernova SN1987a (the closest supernova visible from the Earth in over 400 years) is in the field of view, but is too faint to be seen. This image was taken by UIT during Astro-1 and is shown here in false-color.

  • UV image of Cygnus Loop Cygnus Loop

    This is an old (evolved) supernova renmant in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan. The Cygnus Loop (also called the "Veil Nebula") is believed to be the remains of a star which went supernova about 150,000 years ago. The original gasious matter ejected when the star exploded have rammed into and piled up the surrounding insterstellar matter, which is now visible as broken, wispy, nebulous ring measuring about 3 degrees across, of which UIT imaged about 1/16th.

  • UV and optical images of M82 M82

    This is a starburst galaxy viewed edge-on. Like our own galaxy, M82 is shaped like a flat, round disk, and from our vantage-point, we see the edge of this galaxy. M82 is also the closest starburst galaxy to our own (see NGC1317 and the Starburst Gallery on this page). M82 is very close to the spiral galaxy M81, and the two may have interacted. M82 is shown here in the visible (red) and the UV (blue).

  • UV and optical images NGC1317 NGC1317

    This is a spiral galaxy with a circumnuclear starburst ring. In the UV, the disk of the galaxy is very faint, and we mainly see the starburst ring. NGC1317 is shown here in the visible (red) and in the UV (blue).

    Movies Created From UIT Images

    A 60 second movie of M81 "morphing" from the UV to the Red.

    Small UIT logo The UIT homepage

    Image Credits

    The VISIBLE-BAND images on this page were taken at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), and Mount Laguna Observatory (MLO).

    KPNO and CTIO are operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. (AURA), under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation as part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories,

    MLO is operated jointly by San Diego State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

    BEYOND THE BLUE Descriptions written by:

    William H. Waller
    Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
    Robinson Hall
    Medford MA 02155

    M81 movie created by:

    Eric Smith
    NASA Headquarters
    Astron. & Physics Div.
    Code SZ
    Washington DC 20546-0001

    The Principal Investigator for the UIT is:

    Theodore P. Stecher
    Code 680.0, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771