List of largest infrared telescopes

Summary

Atmospheric windows in the infrared: much of this type of light is blocked when viewed from the Earth's surface.

The largest infrared telescopes for infrared astronomy are listed in terms of diameter of primary mirror. The infrared spectrum with its longer wavelength than visible light has a number of challenges, especially for ground-based observatories but also in space. Notably infrared radiation is emitted by all physical objects above Absolute Zero temperature so telescopes are subject to local interference.

Overall

Infrared observations from Earth's surface are possible in a limited way but can be very dependent on location and atmospheric conditions. Water vapour in the Earth's atmosphere blocks much of the infrared band, although some limited observations are possible and there is a number of infrared observatories.

Sometimes other optical telescopes can make infrared observations if they are equipped with the right detectors, even if they are not dedicated infrared observatories. For ground-based observatories, the location can make a big difference in how much observation is possible.

Name Image Effective
aperture
m (in)
Wavelength
Coverage
Site Year(s) Refs
VISTA VISTA at Paranal Eso0704b.tif 4.1 m (161″) 0.85 – 2.3 μm Paranal Obs., Chile 2008 [1]
UKIRT UKIRT at sunset.jpg 3.8 m (150″) 0.8 - 20 μm Mauna Kea Obs., Hawaii 1978
Herschel Obs. Herschel Space Observatory.jpg 3.5 m (138″) 60-672 μm Space, Sun-Earth L2 2009-2013 [2]
IRTF Afshin Darian - NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.jpg 3 m (118″) 0.8 - 25 μm Mauna Kea, Hawaii 1979 [3]
SOFIA SOFIA ED10-0182-01 full.jpg 2.5 m (98.4 in) 0.3 - 655 μm 747SP; Stratosphere 2010 [4][5]
Hubble Space Telescope HST-SM4.jpeg 2.4 m (94.5 inches) < 1.7 μm Space, Earth orbit 2009-2013 [6]
WIRO WyomingInfraRedObservatory.jpg 2.3 m (90.6 in) 0.4 - 0.8 μm Jelm mountain, 9656 ft. (2943m) 1977 [7]

Space telescopes only

The mirror of this infrared space telescope is coated with Gold because of its ability to reflect infrared light. Optical telescopes typically have used aluminum or silver.
Infrared observations can see objects hidden in visible light, such as HUDF-JD2 shown.
Name Effective
aperture
cm (in)
Wavelength
Coverage
Year Refs
JWST 650 cm 0.6-28.5 µm 2021 (planned)
Herschel Obs. 350 cm (138″) 60-672 μm 2009 - 2013 [2]
Hubble WFC3 240 cm 0.2-1.7 μm 2009 -
Spitzer 85 cm 3-180 μm 2003 - 2020 [4]
Akari 68.5 cm 2-200 μm 2006 -2011 [4]
ISO 60 cm 2.5-240 μm 1995-1998 [4]
IRAS 57 cm 5-100 μm 1983 [4]
NEOSM 50 cm 4–5.2 & 6–10 µm 2025 (planned) [8]
WISE/NEOWISE 40 cm 3-25 μm 2009-2011 & 2013 - [4]
MSX 33 cm 4.3-21 μm 1996 - 1997
Spacelab IRT 15.2 cm 1.7-118 μm 1985 Aug [9]
Human Eye For comparison ~1 cm 0.39-0.75 μm -

dagger For comparison

See also

References

  1. ^ Emerson, J.P., Sutherland, W.J., McPherson, A.M., Craig, S.C., Dalton, G.B., Ward, A.K. (2005). The Visible & Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy. The Messenger
  2. ^ a b Amos, Jonathan (14 June 2009). "ESA launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes". BBC. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  3. ^ IRTF homepage
  4. ^ a b c d e f JPL: Herschel Space Observatory: Related Missions
  5. ^ Krabbe, Alfred (March 2007). "SOFIA telescope". Proceedings of SPIE: Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation. Munich, Germany: SPIE — The International Society for Optical Engineering. pp. 276–281. arXiv:astro-ph/0004253. Bibcode:2000SPIE.4014..276K. doi:10.1117/12.389103.
  6. ^ "Wide Field Camera 3 Instrument Handbook for Cycle 23" (PDF). Space Telescope Science Institute. January 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  7. ^ University of Wyoming 2.3-meter Telescope (WIRO)
  8. ^ NASA to Build New Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope 2019
  9. ^ Kent, et al. – Galactic structure from the Spacelab infrared telescope (1992).