NASA has chosen the first six science projects for its Space Infrared Telescope
Facility (SIRTEF). By far the biggest chunk of observing time will go to the Black Holes and Galaxies project – an
infrared survey of galaxies up to 10 billion light-years away to find out whether black holes are the principal energy
source in bright distant galaxies.
Other projects include a survey of the most distant galaxies to study galactic
birth and evolution, and observations of the first stages of star formation taking place deep inside molecular
Infrared telescopes reach parts of the sky that other telescopes can’t see. The radiation emitted by stars
is absorbed by large dust clouds and the heated dust glows in the infra-red, revealing what would otherwise be
SIRTEF will be launched in July next year.