UVEX mission to study stellar explosions in the ultraviolet

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This image shows the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097, as seen by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
This image shows the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097, as seen by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Sand, K. Sheth

A new mission to study ultraviolet light across the sky will give humanity more information about how galaxies and stars evolve. The space telescope, called UVEX (UltraViolet EXplorer), is scheduled to be launched in 2030 as part of NASA’s next Mid-Class Astrophysics Explorer mission.

What UVEX will do

In addition to conducting a highly sensitive survey of the entire sky, UVEX will be able to quickly point to sources of ultraviolet light in the Universe. This will allow it to detect explosions that follow bursts of gravitational waves caused by neutron star mergers. The telescope will also have an ultraviolet spectrograph to study stellar explosions and massive stars.

“UVEX will help us to better understand the nature of both nearby and distant galaxies, as well as to follow the dynamic events in our changing Universe,” said Nicola Fox, assistant administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

According to her, the mission will provide the space telescope fleet with key capabilities in the near and far ultraviolet range, which will provide a wealth of data that will open up new ways to explore the mysteries of space.

Ця мозаїка M31 об'єднує 330 окремих зображень, зроблених ультрафіолетовим/оптичним телескопом на борту космічного апарату НАСА "Свіфт". Це зображення галактики з найвищою роздільною здатністю, коли-небудь зафіксоване в ультрафіолеті.
This M31 mosaic combines 330 separate images taken by the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope aboard NASA’s Swift spacecraft. It is the highest resolution image of the galaxy ever recorded in the ultraviolet.

Ultraviolet research

The telescope’s ultraviolet survey will complement data from other missions conducting extensive research this decade, including the ESA-led Euclid mission with NASA and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in May 2027. Together, these missions will help create a modern multi-wavelength map of our Universe.

“With the addition of the innovative new UVEX mission to our portfolio, we will have an important data archive that will have lasting value for the scientific community,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters.

In his opinion, the new telescope will contribute to our understanding of the Universe in different wavelength ranges and solve one of the main priorities of astrophysics today: studying rapid changes in space.

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