Russian scientists have developed a project for a lunar observatory: it will help find “wormholes” in the Universe

Russian scientists have developed a project for a lunar observatory: it will help find “wormholes” in the Universe


The concept of creating a new generation observatory on the Moon was developed by scientists from the Astrospace Center of the Physical Institute. P.N.Lebedev RAS. It is expected that it will be able to observe complex organic molecules, which many now consider to be the primary sources of life on Earth, at frequencies of 100 gigahertz and higher. We talked about what such an observatory would be like, as well as about other projects of the institute with Alexey RUDNITSKY, deputy head of the ASC FIAN.

— Alexey, your plans include the development of three projects at once: the creation of a compact ground-based antenna array, a space interferometer, and a lunar observatory. They are united by the millimeter range. Please tell us why it is interesting and where it is already used?

— The millimeter range, unlike the radio range in which our RadioAstron observatory previously worked (its service life expired in 2019 – author), allows telescopes to look into the most isolated corners of the Universe, hidden from us by clouds of dust and interstellar gas. In the millimeter range, dust and gas become transparent to the observer. In particular, using a millimeter telescope, Western scientists managed to photograph black holes in the M87 galaxy and in the center of our galaxy several years ago.

— What kind of telescope filmed black holes?

— This is the so-called Event Horizon Telescope (THT) – a global association of all ground-based millimeter-wave telescopes for observation in interferometer mode. An interferometer, in simple terms, is a way to increase the virtual mirror of a telescope by combining the distances from all telescopes participating in the experiment. That is, the imaginary mirror of the TGS, combining the ALMA observatory, IRAM and others, has today the largest diameter possible for terrestrial observatories, this is the diameter of the Earth – 12,700 km, despite the fact that most antennas do not exceed 20 meters.

— That is, the millimeter range has reached its limit on Earth and it needs to be launched into space?

– Yes. We really hope that the world’s first millimeter-wave space observatory will be ours, the Russian Spektr-M – Millimetron, which is planned to be launched by 2032. It will increase the angular resolution of the TGS by 10–100 times! And the maximum size of its virtual mirror will be 1.5 million km, since it will be located in orbit at the Lagrange point, at a distance of 1.5 million km from the Earth. But this is part of a ground-space interferometer, which still has its limitations. It is known that ground-based telescopes that will work in conjunction with Millimetron will be influenced by the atmosphere and because of this we will not be able to go to higher frequencies exceeding 230–340 gigahertz in interferometer mode. Accordingly, with its help it will not be possible to unravel all the secrets of the Universe.

We have developed a project of four orbital telescopes that will allow us to look deep into the Universe at a frequency of 600 gigahertz. The telescopes will be located at altitudes of 7.5–8 thousand and 22.5–23 thousand km. They will have circular Earth orbits. Thanks to them, for the first time we will be able to obtain not just high-precision photographs of a black hole, but also video of the movement of matter in its vicinity.

— How will this video be valuable to us?

“We will see the distribution of gas, the temperature of matter, it will be possible to study how the radiation of the gas is polarized, and therefore obtain information about the configuration of magnetic fields. It is of great interest to all astrophysicists in the world today, since it would help to understand whether “wormholes” masquerading as ordinary black holes exist in the Universe.

The hypothesis of the existence of “wormholes” in the Universe, proposed by Soviet scientists Igor Novikov and Yakov Zeldovich, states that such burrows are black holes, in which, unlike ordinary black holes, where matter irrevocably falls, there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” . In other words, a wormhole is a point connecting two distant points in space and time. These points may even be in different universes.

— Let’s move on to telescopes on the Moon.

“The creation of an observatory on the Moon will allow us to get a more stationary, and therefore more accurate, long-lived system, which will be able to observe at frequencies of 1000 or more gigahertz due to the complete absence of an atmosphere on the Moon. And with its help it will be possible to solve non-trivial problems related to the observation of bioorganic molecules in the interstellar medium, which may have given rise to life on Earth, the “childhood” of the formation of our Universe based on images of cosmic microwave background radiation, the region of formation of stars and planets.

— How many telescopes will there be on the Moon and where do you plan to install them?

— We think that there should be 3–4 of them with a mirror diameter of no more than 3–4 meters. While conceptual studies are underway, we are deciding whether to place them in a crater, on the dark or visible side of the Moon. There is a third option – to make all three telescopes on a movable platform so that they can change their location.

— Without a person, will such an observatory be able to work?

– Will be able. Initially, our idea included the possibility of their autonomous operation.

— What else besides the age of the Universe can you theoretically find in the Universe? Maybe you can see an opening “door” at the other end?

“We can discover something that will revolutionize our understanding of the Universe, our cosmic home, for example, we will understand how gravity works, how space-time behaves, how planets are born and life begins.

But we also have closer plans. In particular, if we build the first network of observatories in Russia that observe the sky in the millimeter range, we will be able to create large-scale ground support for a group of promising communications satellites. They will be no worse than Elon Musk’s, but there will be much fewer of them. To do this, it is enough just to install several groups of terrestrial antennas (5-6 each) in areas with low humidity, for example, in the mountains of Dagestan, in the Arctic, in the Irkutsk region.


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