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Far-IR/Submm Missions of the Future: Scientific and Technology Challenges

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Studying astrophysics in the far-infrared and submillimetre allows us to probe the earliest phases of the formation of galaxies, stars and planets. The past decade has seen a large investment by the UK and astronomers are poised to reap the rewards of new facilities (such as Herschel, SCUBA -2, and ALMA ) over the next several years. However, there remain both crucial wavebands and capabilities that are not addressed by the current programme. These include the so-called “far-infrared gap” and the ability to carry out very large area surveys in the submillimetre to depths well below current confusion limits. In this talk, after a brief review of the current and near-term status, I will describe the scientific goals of new proposed telescopes that are designed to address these missing links. These include large, single-aperture telescopes operating from ultra dry sites on the ground (e.g. CCAT ), cooled space satellites in the mid-far infrared (SPICA), and more speculative ventures such as a 10-m class far-IR telescope (SAFIR) and multi-element interferometer (FIRI) operating in space. Key to any new telescope or mission is the development of technologies to ensure that state-of-the-art instrumentation is employed on such facilities. The UK has considerable heritage in this areas and I will also discuss some of the key challenges of the next generation of detectors and their cryogenic requirements.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Extra Talks series.

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