www.sron.nl/122-hifi2/hifi.html

29-04-2016
loss-of-hitomi-great-blow-to-international-space-research

Loss of Hitomi great blow to international space research

After a perfect launch on 17 February and a few weeks of excellent operations the Japanese space telescope Hitomi was considered to be lost yesterday. A fault in the orientation of the satellite probably led to considerable damage to the space telescope. This is a great blow to international space research. In the few weeks that Hitomi was operational the space telescope produced spectacular observations.        Read more (in dutch)
25-04-2016
mark-rutte-and-jet-bussemaker-visit-sron-stand-at-hannover-messe

Mark Rutte and Jet Bussemaker visit SRON stand at Hannover Messe

At the Hannover Messe 2016 prime-minister Mark Rutte and Science minister Jet Bussemaker (OCW) got aquainted today with SRON research. The members of government attended short, personal presentations on SRON's SPEX technology and the Athena mission.        Read more (in dutch)
31-03-2016
hifi-project-ends

HIFI project ends

Today the international HIFI project has come to a natural end. Since 1998, starting with a proposal to ESA, SRON and a great number of international partners have been working on the most complex instrument built so far by the institute. Over the years more than 300 people played an active role in the project; in the last month still 20 people worldwide were occupied with HIFI post-operations.         More
29-03-2016
no-contact-with-hitomi

JAXA loses contact with Hitomi

On 26 March the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that a communications anomaly had occurred with its X-ray astronomical satellite Hitomi, known before launch as Astro-H. The cause of the communications anomaly is yet unknown.         More
15-03-2016
in-memoriam-roel-gathier-1953-2016

In memoriam Roel Gathier (1953-2016)

Following a brief illness SRON director dr. Roel Gathier (1953) passed away on 14 March. As SRON's Managing Director, but also as chairman of ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC), he exerted a strong influence on both national and international space research. His untimely death has left a vacuum, which will be hard to fill.         More
02-03-2016
nasa-film-of-spex-airborne-test

NASA films SPEX Airborne test

In February, a team of SRON went to NASA (Palmdale, CA) to test the SPEX Airborne instrument on the ER-2 high altitude platform. NASA made a nice footage of this, which can be seen on Youtube         More
17-02-2016
japan-launches-new-space-telescope

Japan launches new space telescope

This morning Japan launched a new X-ray telescope. With the help of Dutch hardware the ASTRO-H-mission, renamed Hitomi, will study high-energy phenomena such as matter sucked in by black holes, turbulency in clusters of milky ways, shockwaves caused by supernova explosions and large-scale structures in the universe. ASTRO-H/Hitomi will also investigate dark matter and the acceleration of cosmic particles to high energies.        Read more (in dutch)

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Summary

HIFI's superb spectral resolution coupled with its ability to observe thousands of molecular, atomic and ionic lines at submillimeter wavelengths make it the instrument of choice to address many of the key  questions in modern astrophysics related to the cyclic interaction of stars and the interstellar medium:
  1. HIFI will probe the physics, kinematics and energetics of star forming regions through their cooling lines, including H2O, the major coolant.
  2. HIFI will survey the molecular inventory of such diverse regions as shocked molecular clouds, dense Photon-Dominated Regions (PDRs), diffuse atomic clouds, Hot Cores and proto-planetary disks around newly formed stars, winds from dying stars and toroids interacting with AGN engines.
  3. HIFI is uniquely suited to search for low-lying ro-vibrational transitions of complex species such as PAHs and, thus, to investigate the origin and evolution of the molecular universe.
  4. HIFI can provide the out-gassing rate of comets through H2O rotational lines and determine the vertical distribution of H2O in the giant planets and on Mars.
  5. HIFI can measure the mass-loss history of stars which, rather than nuclear burning, regulates stellar evolution after the main sequence, and dominates the gas and dust mass balance of the ISM.
  6. HIFI will measure the FIR line spectrum of nearby galaxies as templates for distant, possibly primordial galaxies.

The main reason to build HIFI was because the above sketched science cannot be done from the ground, since atmospheric water lines block all radiation coming from space. On the right plots are given of the atmospheric transmission.

HIFI is optimised to address the astronomical key questions given above. All of these require high spectral resolving powers and sensitivity. Combining the high spectral resolving power of the radio heterodyne technique with quantum-noise limited detection from superconductor physics and state-of-the-art microwave technology, has made it possible to develop an instrument with a continuous frequency coverage from 480 to 1250 GHz in five bands, plus a sixth band providing coverage for 1410-1910 GHz at an unrivalled spectral resolution and ultimate sensitivity. This instrument is able to perform rapid and complecte spectral line surveys with resolving powers from 103 up to 107 (300 - 0.03 km/s) and deep line observations.

HIFI Band

1

2

3

4

5

6

Coverage (GHz)

480-
640

640-
800

800-
960

960-
1120

1120-
1250

1410-
1910

Half Power
Beamwidth
(arcsec)

39

30

25

21

19

13

Rec. Noise
(DSB) in K
Baseline values

110

145

175

210

370

800