Exploring the Cosmic Frontier

Part of the series ESO Astrophysics Symposia European Southern Observatory pp 219-222

On the Relevance and Future of UV Astronomy

  • A.I.G. de CastroAffiliated withInstituto de Astronomía y Geodesia (CSIC-UCM), Fac. de CC. Matemáticas, Univ. Complutense de MadridInstituto de Astronomía y Geodesia (CSIC-UCM), Fac. de CC. Matemáticas, Univ. Complutense de Madrid

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The UV range supplies a richness of experimental data which is unmatched by any other spectral domain for the study of astrophysical plasmas since (1) almost all the resonance lines of all elements, covering plasmas from the coolest regimes (10- 1000K) up to hot (some 105K) temperatures are observed in this range, (2)the electronic transitions of the most abundant molecules, such as H2, are in the ultraviolet which is also the most sensitive to the presence of large molecules such as the PAHs and (3)the strong forbidden coronal lines produced at temperatures from 106K to 107K are also observed in this range. Amazingly enough, no firm plans exist for the future to maintain an Ultraviolet observing capability for Astrophysics. Only concerted efforts by the community will supply the information required to have the space agencies decide to release the funding needed for the support of these important Astrophysical study capabilities. For this purpose, the Network for UltraViolet Astrophysics (NUVA, has been established within the OPTical Infrared COordination network for Astronomy (OPTICON). NUVA will assess the future needs and develop a perspective for the future on a European scale.