NASA’s ‘Far-Side-of-the-Moon’ Orbiting Telescope –“To Explore Never Before Observed First Stars, Black holes, and Galaxies” (WATCH VIDEO)

 

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"This is a challenging experiment because we're having to look through a foreground — namely, the Milky Way galaxy — that is at least four orders of magnitude brighter than the signal that we're trying to detect," said Jack Burns, DARE's principal investigator for The Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE) and the director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research at University of Colorado Boulder.


DARE will probe the epoch of formation of the first stars, black holes, and galaxies, never before observed, using the redshifted hyperfine 21-cm transition from neutral hydrogen. These first objects to illuminate the Universe at the end of the Dark Ages into the Cosmic Dawn (redshifts 35 to 11) will be studied via their heating and ionization of the intergalactic medium.

 

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Over its lifetime of 2 years, DARE observes at low radio-astronomy frequencies, 40-120 MHz, in a 125-km altitude lunar orbit. The Moon occults both the Earth and the Sun as DARE makes observations above the lunar farside, shielding the spacecraft from the corrupting effects of radio interference, Earth's ionosphere, and solar emissions. A wideband dual bicone antenna, pilot tone stabilized polarimetric receivers to separate the unpolarized 21-cm signal from polarized instrumental and sky emission, and a digital spectrometer make up the science instrument.

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DARE realizes NASA's strategic objective in astrophysics to: "explore how (the Universe) began and evolved". It also executes the small-scale mission described in the Astrophysics Roadmap: "Mapping the Universe's hydrogen clouds using 21-cm radio wavelengths via a lunar orbiter from the farside of the Moon". Finally, it addresses two fundamental questions: What were the first objects to light up the Universe, and when did they do it?

DARE's specific science objectives are:

Determine when the first stars ignited and their characteristics
Determine when the first black holes began accretion and their characteristics.
Determine the reionization history of the early Universe.
Determine if there is evidence for exotic physics, such as dark matter decay, in the Dark Ages.
To accomplish these objectives, DARE will measure the spectral shape of the sky-averaged redshifted 21-cm signal from neutral hydrogen over the redshift range 11-35 (80-420 million years after the Big Bang), corresponding to radio frequencies 40-120 MHz.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA and Space.com

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