physics and the phenomena observed in the distant cosmos are the dominant themes in today's exploration of the universe.
Advances in physics are crucial for the development of new observational tools that further our understanding of the cosmos. New tools that measure electromagnetic wavelengths from radio waves to gamma rays have widened our window on the universe (see sidebar “Next Steps in the Exploration of the Universe”). And, using neutrinos and gravitational waves, new windows are being opened (see sidebar “Three New Windows”).
NEXT STEPS IN THE EXPLORATION OF THE UNIVERSE
Our ability to study the universe is growing dramatically. We now view the universe with eyes that are sensitive to wavelengths from radio waves 10 cm long to gamma rays of wavelength 10−16 cm. Advances in materials and device physics have spawned a new generation of low-noise, high-sensitivity detectors. These new eyes have allowed us to see the universe as early as 300,000 years after its birth, to detect the presence of black holes and neutron stars, and to watch the birth of stars and galaxies.These photos show two of the next steps in this exploration: The Sloan Digital Sky Survey's 2.5-m telescope at Apache Point, New Mexico (left), will chart a million galaxies; the Chandra X-ray Observatory (right) will extend our view of the x-ray universe out past 5 billion light-years.
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