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The Next Generation Space Telescope

Astronomy made some great discoveries in the last century, it expanded our understanding of the universe and made us see beyond the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

In spite of these great discoveries some fundamental questions remain unanswered. To further our understanding of the way our present universe formed following the Big Bang we need a new type of observatory with capabilities currently unavailable in either existing ground-based or space telescopes. The goal of the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) is to observe the first stars and galaxies in the Universe. The questions we want answered are:

* What is the shape of the Universe?
* How do galaxies evolve?
* How do stars and planetary systems form and interact?
* How did the Universe build up it present elemental/chemical composition?
* What is dark matter?

Answers to most of these questions involve objects formed extremely early in the history of the Universe. Such objects have their radiation greatly redshifted when observed in the current epoch, meaning that observations are best performed in the infrared portion of the spectrum. The NGST will be capable of detecting radiation whose wavelength lies in the range 0.6 to 20 microns. Furthermore, the NGST must be able to see objects 400 times fainter than those currently studied with large ground-based infrared telescopes or the current generation of space-based infrared telescopes and it must do so with an image sharpness comparable to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Official NGST webpage

28th July 2000
Emma Button
Sarah Amandusson