Subatomic Particles Described on
High-Resolution Background-Radiation Observations
Cosmic Background Imager
Johns Hopkins University Press Release
The Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, FUSE, was launched on June 24, 1999, to study, especially, deuterium in the spectra in the directions of a large number of stars in our galaxy. It is predicted that deuterium has a cosmic origin so that the distribution of deuterium will be uniform. As of late 2000, the first deuterium results are being considered by the scientists involved but they have agreed not to release values until separate teams using 4 separate methods of data reduction agree.
By examining these earliest relics of the birth of the universe, astronomers hope better to understand the processes that led to the formation and evolution of stars, including our solar system. Ultimately, scientists hope data from FUSE will allow them to make a huge leap of understanding about how the primordial elements were created and have been distributed since the beginning of time.
"We think that as stars age deuterium is destroyed," said NASA's Dr. George Sonneborn, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, the FUSE project scientist. "Mapping deuterium throughout the Milky Way will give us a better understanding of how elements are mixed, distributed and destroyed."
"The big questions are these: Do we understand the origins of the universe, and do we understand how galaxies evolve?" said Dr. Kenneth Sembach, a FUSE science team member from the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. "Because FUSE can observe ultraviolet light that other telescopes can't, we can test in unique ways how deuterium and other elements are circulated within galaxies. That in turn may test the limits of the Big Bang theory."
Among the cosmic questions FUSE will tackle are:
-- What were conditions like in the first few minutes after the Big Bang? Will studying the "fossil remnant" deuterium change current theories of the Big Bang?
-- How are the elements dispersed throughout galaxies, and how does this affect the way galaxies evolve?
-- What are the properties of the interstellar gas clouds out of which stars and planets form?
-- Does the Milky Way have a vast galactic fountain that gives birth to stars, spews hot gas, circulates elements and churns out cosmic material over and over?
FUSE was developed for NASA by Johns Hopkins, which has the primary responsibility for all aspects of the project. NASA is responsible for the launch. FUSE is the first NASA mission of this scope that has been developed and operated entirely by a university. Dr. Warren Moos, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins, is Principal Investigator for FUSE.
Information on the FUSE mission and NASA's Origins program can be found at:
Basic particle physics is covered by "The Particle Adventure" of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Summary sheets are available from Royal Holloway College, England.
Back to top