Universe in the range of up to a millimeter: how the most complicated telescope in Russia "Millimetron" is being created

Work "Spectrum-M" or "Millimetron"

The observatory will have millimeter and infrared wavelengths

waves with a cryogenic telescope with a diameter of 10 m.

In the mode of communication with the Earth, it will work asthe largest virtual radio telescope capable of investigating the structure of galactic nuclei, black holes, pulsars, studying relic radiation, looking for the earliest traces of the formation of the Universe, white holes and wormholes.

The working range of the telescope is from 20 μm to 17 mm. It is assumed that the telescope will be able to work both alone and as part of an interferometer with bases "Earth-Space" with ground-based telescopes.

What the observatory will explore

The scientific program of the Millimetron project includes three main areas:

  • physical processes in the early Universe. "Millimetron" will try to detect distortions inspectrum of the relic radiation. For the first time, such studies will give scientists the opportunity to look into the "invisible" part of the Universe in the era before recombination, when it was opaque to radiation.
  • Study of active galactic nuclei. Sensitivity and angular resolution"Millimetron" will be able to test the hypothesis of the existence of wormholes. He will be able to investigate the structures of magnetic fields near hypothetical wormhole entrances and possible outflows of matter from these areas.
  • The origin of life in the universe. It is in the terahertz range, in which there will beto observe "Millimetron" objects in the celestial sphere, there are a large number of molecular lines for complex molecules, the so-called prebiotics, without which the existence of life, according to modern concepts, is impossible. Also, thanks to Spectrum-M, scientists will be able to study protoplanetary disks, some exoplanets, the atmospheres of these planets and terrestrial planets.

Scientific equipment of the observatory

  • Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics RAS created for the observatory heterodyne receivers with a frequency of up to 600 gigahertz.
  • STC "Cryogenic Technique" has developed a cryogenic onboard vehicle for cooling the telescope mirror in space to ultra-low temperatures - minus 243 ° C... This is necessary primarily for the regimesingle antenna, since in order to achieve the highest possible sensitivity of bolometric array receivers, it is necessary to cool them as much as possible.
  • Concern Sumitomo produced high modulus carbon fiber for antenna panels.
  • Research Institute of Space and Aviation Materials (NIIKAM) - developer binder for high modulus carbon fiber.

Why study space in different ranges of electromagnetic radiation

Through science, man can observesurrounding the world in different ranges. Depending on the wavelength, we call electromagnetic oscillations differently. Long waves - from kilometers to centimeters - are "radio". For example, an FM radio wave is about 3 meters long, a cellular connection is 16 cm, a microwave oven is 12 cm, and an experimental 5G network in Skolkovo is 6 cm.

If the wavelength is shortened less than a centimeter, and is millimeters or their fractions, this is already a millimeter range of radiation. It is such a transitional state between radio and light.

If we shorten the waves further, we getinfrared "thermal" radiation, then visible light, then ultraviolet, X-rays, and the hardest and most energetic radiation - gamma. All this is called the "spectrum of electromagnetic radiation".

The graph shows that only a small part of the real information about this world is perceived by our eyes - only seven colors, which we see as a rainbow.

What we perceive with our eyes as colors is simply electromagnetic vibrations of different wavelengths, for example, the wavelength of red light is 650 nanometers, and blue is 450 nanometers.

By the same principle, scientists create color pictures from images in those ranges of radiation in which our eyes cannot see at all, for example, in infrared or ultraviolet radiation, or even X-rays.

The radiation that reaches the Earth is far fromalways directly coincides with the one that left the source. The difference depends on the speed of the source relative to the receiver, the distance and the properties of the medium between them.

If we take into account the entire volume of factors, then this is the only waywe will be able to extract a huge amount of data about near and distant space: study the structure, movement and evolution of stars, find exoplanets and black holes, observe processes in the nuclei of galaxies, measure distances on galactic and galactic scales, study the properties of intergalactic and interstellar space, look into the past of galaxies for billions of years.

The main thing in the new observatory

The most important part of the telescope is the main thingmirror. It allows you to collect electromagnetic radiation and focus on receiving detectors. The more radiation the mirror can collect and direct to the desired point, the sharper the telescope, or in scientific terms, the higher its angular resolution. Therefore, the main mirror of a telescope has two key indicators that determine its characteristics - diameter and surface quality.

Millimetron's mirror will consist of 96 segments, 72 of which will be deployed after being placed in a working orbit.

To give a perfectly smooth surface to the composite elements of the Millimetron mirror, sitall shapes are used. There should be four such shapes in total, one for each row of mirror segments.

The surface precision of the sitall shape is 1 micron.The accuracy of the composite segments of the space telescope, which are now obtained on these forms, is about 4 microns, i.e. the required accuracy has been achieved.

The temperature of liquid nitrogen is about -196 ° C, while in orbit the surface of the mirror should cool down to a temperature of -269 ° C, i.e. just four degrees above absolute zero.

Such cooling is possible only if the telescopecompletely protect from heating by the sun. At the same time, "Millimetron" is planned to be launched at the L2 Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system, and the nearest natural shadow will be 1 million km from the telescope. Therefore, it will be necessary to unfold the heat-insulating shield over the mirror.

International cooperation for the launch of the observatory

It is planned that representatives of Russia will sign intergovernmental agreements with China, South Korea, France and Italy on their participation in the creation of an astrophysical space observatory.

At the moment, formalization is underwaycooperation with China, South Korea, France and Italy at the state level, that is, preparing for signing the relevant intergovernmental agreements, which will spell out the specific role of each country participating in the project on the basis of previously reached agreements.

Larisa Likhacheva, Deputy Director of the Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Earlier it became known that South Korea mayhelp the project with a network of terrestrial millimeter-wave antennas and heterodyne receivers with a broadband mixer, China and a cooperation of scientists from France, Sweden and the Netherlands - matrix receivers, Italy - a long-wave matrix spectrometer.

When will the launch of the observatory take place?

The official launch date is scheduled for 2029.Tests of composite mirror segments have not yet been completed. The hydrogen stage for the Angara-A5V rocket has not yet been created, and the launch pad is not ready at Vostochny.

But one of the most difficult stages in creatingtelescope - the technology for producing a mirror - is already in the process of mastering, with quite obvious results. All sitall bases have already been made, and after the technology is ready, production of all 96 segments can be started.

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