millimeter astronomy

millimeter astronomy

A branch of radio astronomy covering the wavelength range from 1 to 10 millimeters approximately. When studies began in the late 1960s it was the highest frequency range, 30–300 gigahertz, in which radio astronomy could be carried out. Submillimeter astronomy has since become feasible. Both millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths are ideal for observations of giant molecular clouds. A large variety of molecules form at the high densities in the clouds. The spectral lines emitted by the molecules are mainly in the millimeter and submillimeter range, and give information on chemical composition, relative abundances of isotopes, chemical reactions, and temperatures, densities, and velocities in the clouds (see also molecular-line radio astronomy).

Millimeter wave instrumentation – usually parabolic radio dishes plus line receivers – is similar to that used for submillimeter astronomy. One example is the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

References in periodicals archive ?
According to IRAM Director Karl Schuster, the success is based on "decades of European expertise" in millimeter astronomy. "As early as the 1990s, the Max Planck Institute in Bonn and our institute with its two observatories demonstrated both technically and scientifically that we have a unique method with high-resolution radio observations to analyze the immediate surroundings of supermassive black holes.