Scientists looking back at the birth of the first galaxy with the DESHIMA spectrometer

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Link to video: Scientists looking back at the birth of the first galaxy with the DESHIMA spectrometer

TU Delft researchers have designed a new type of spectrometer, allowing them to look back into time and space at the very beginnings of the universe.

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Light, which has travelled from these early beginnings of the universe to our earth in between 10 and 13 billion years, can now be measured by DESHIMA. DESHIMA - developed by the TU Delft in collaboration with SRON, Leiden Observatory and Japanese astronomers - is the birth of a new technology. It allows scientists to address the question of the whole history of the universe: from the first star and the first galaxy to where we are now. DESHIMA is a wideband spectrometer, one or two orders more than existing ones. This means you can point it at a particular galaxy of which you don't know the redshift, and you can rapidly determine the redshift of that galaxy and move on to the next one. Scientists captured first light from Saturn falling on DESHIMA on November the 20th. The baseline goal of their mission in Chili, to get DESHIMA working on the ASTE Telescope, has been a success. The scientists will be able to create the first 3D maps of star systems dating back to the dawn of our universe.

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Period15 Sept 2017

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleThe DESHIMA guide to the galaxy
    Degree of recognitionLocal
    Media name/outletNODES, EEMCS science blog
    Media typeWeb
    Duration/Length/Size5 minutes
    DescriptionAstronomers looking to find out more about the early beginnings of our universe need to measure infrared light which has taken between 2 and 10 billion years to reach earth. Sensitive instruments are required for this. A team from our faculty is working on superconductive and extremely sensitive measurement equipment that can speed up the current measurement process 100-fold. This autumn, they will be travelling to Chile to install and test the equipment. Once it all works, we will be able to create 3D maps of star systems, allowing us to look back in time and space.
    Producer/AuthorMarieke Roggeveen
    PersonsD.J. Thoen, A. Endo, J.J.A. Baselmans


  • spectrometer
  • TU Delft