The following videos provide case studies for how multiwavelength observatories collaborate to reveal the mysteries of the Universe.
The Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission
Over the past decade, NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer has proven itself to be one of the most versatile astrophysics missions ever flown. It remains the only satellite capable of precisely locating gamma-ray bursts - the Universe's most powerful explosions - and monitoring them across a broad range of wavelengths using multiple instruments before they fade from view. The orbiting gamma-ray instrument has a very wide field of view and can detect gamma-ray bursts from a large fraction of the sky. When a burst goes off, a rough position on the sky is determined and an x-ray telescope with a better ability to determine the position is pointed to the source. Once the X-ray source is detected, an ultraviolet telescope on Swift quickly identifies the location accurately enough so that a ground-based telescope can be pointed at the gamma-ray source. The coordinates of the location are transmitted to observatories all over the world, allowing optical, infrared, and radio observations to be made of the source. The gamma-ray burst may last for only a second or a minute, but observations in the other wavebands may go on for many hours. Without early detection of the burst, however, none of the follow-up observations would be possible.
Swift - A Decade of Game-Changing Astrophysics: Scientists participating in NASA's Swift mission discuss the spacecraft, the science, and their recollections of their personal experiences as members of the team. Click the triangle to start the video. To access the audio, click the speaker icon. The double arrows in the lower right corner enlarge the video to full screen. The double bars pauses the video. Push the escape key on your keyboard to return to the lesson page. If a video is blank, refresh the lesson page.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS)
Today's telescopes study the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum. Each part of the spectrum tells us different things about the Universe, giving us more pieces of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle. The most powerful telescopes on the ground and in space have joined forces over the last decade in a unique observing campaign, known as the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, or GOODS, which reaches across the spectrum and deep back into cosmic time.
The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS): GOODS unites extremely deep observations from NASA's Great Observatories (Spitzer, Hubble, and Chandra), ESA's Herschel and XMM-Newton, and from the most powerful ground-based facilities, to survey the distant Universe to the faintest flux limits across the electromagnetic spectrum. Video controls are the same as in the above video.
Credit: ESO, ESA/Hubble, NASA Spitzer Science Center, Chandra X-ray Center