Bang Goes the Theory Zooms in on Herschel ATLAS Results

Herschel ATLAS scientists will appear on episode 5 of BBC's Bang Goes the Theory to talk about their exciting results using the Herschel Space Observatory.  The team get a chance to showcase their discovery of a new, efficient way to find "cosmic zoom lenses" which allow us to peer into distant galaxies invisible to telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope.  The show will feature an online interview with Dr Mattia Negrello of the Open University (and lead researcher on lensing project) and an interview with Dr Asantha Cooray of the University of California, Irvine.   H-ATLAS's Dr Stephen Serjeant of the Open University is also lead science consultant for the series.  

Dr NegrelloThis discovery is so interesting because Herschel is incredibly successful at finding these magnified, distant galaxies.  Negrello and his team used the zoom lenses to peer into these far-away galaxies and found that they are forming lots of stars and are extremely dusty, in fact the dust is so thick, we cannot see the galaxies at all using optical telescopes like Hubble. In a similar way to using a magnifying glass to find tiny insects in the dirt, with the Herschel zoom lenses we are able to dig deeper into these dusty galaxies and unlock their secrets.

Dr Mattia Negrello (left) explained, " Our survey of the sky looks for sources of sub-millimetre light. The big breakthrough is that we have discovered that many of the brightest sources are being magnified by lenses, which means that we no longer have to rely on the rather inefficient methods of finding lenses which are used at visible and radio wavelengths

The online interview with Dr Negrello can be found here.


Dr Asantha Cooray

Left: Dr Asantha Cooray in front of a Herschel image - each dot is a galaxy and there are literally thousands of galaxies in this picture.  Dr Cooray commented, "Locating new lenses is an arduous task that involves slogging through tons of data. With Herschel, we can find a lot of them much more efficiently." He added, "I was surprised to learn that Herschel is so good at finding these cosmic lenses."

The episode will be aired on Monday 12 Sept 19.30 BBC1 (England) and on BBC2 (Scotland and Wales).  Viewers in Northern Ireland can see the programme on Friday 16 Sept 20.30 BBC1, and the episode will be available on BBC iPlayer.


To find out more about this method and the lensing results, see our previous press release.

Bang Goes the Theory -"revealing your world with a bang"- is the BBC's flagship prime-time science show, putting science to the test in an entertaining hands on way.  Follow Bang goes the theory on twitter @bbcbang and check out the online roadshows coming to you here.

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