Happy Anniversary, Swift

Ten years ago yesterday, a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral launched the Swift satellite into orbit. From time to time, I’ve published pictures and videos based on data taken by Swift. Most of it has been related to X-ray astronomy because the instrument that I worked on is an X-ray instrument.

M101_Swift_UVSwift has also been doing excellent UV astronomy as well. The picture on the left is the first light UV image from ten years ago. It’s M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy.

Swift‘s UV Optical Telescope has been used to create the most detailed ultraviolet light surveys ever of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the two closest major galaxies. Nearly a million ultraviolet sources appear in the mosaic of the Large Magellanic Cloud below. It was assembled from 2,200 images taken by the UVOT. The 160-megapixel image (drastically reduced resolution here!) required a cumulative exposure of 5.4 days. The image includes light from 160 to 330 nm. Those UV wavelengths are largely blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. The Large Magellanic Cloud is about 14,000 light-years across.lmc_swift

Image Credits: NASA

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