Enhancing the Legacy of Hubble Spectroscopy

Workshop Report

Alessandra Aloisi, aloisi@stsci.edu, and Stefano Casertano, stefano@stsci.edu

The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” could not be more appropriate for the Hubble Space Telescope and its inspiring and breathtaking images. However, as a well-known spectroscopist told his students, “You can’t do astrophysics just by taking images through little colored pieces of glass!”* He was pointing out the complementary powers of other observational approaches, particularly spectroscopy, and the many uses made of Hubble’s unique spectroscopic capabilities amply illustrate his point.

In order to advance the scientific benefits of Hubble’s spectroscopic capabilities, the Institute organized and hosted a workshop entitled “Enhancing the Legacy of HST Spectroscopy,” on November 15–16, 2012. It attracted nearly 70 participants, who represented the worldwide community of astronomers using medium- and high-resolution—mostly ultraviolet—spectroscopy with Hubble, primarily with the active instruments. The goal of the workshop was to explore ways to optimize the impact of Hubble spectroscopy on current and future research, including both direct and archival investigations.

The workshop was a stimulating mix of technical and scientific, invited and contributed talks, demos, and brainstorming sessions and commentary.

The invited talks addressed a variety of subjects. The opening talk was an introduction to Hubble spectroscopy, which was followed by an update on the special capabilities of Hubble’s two operating spectrographs—the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). Optimal techniques for combining Hubble spectral data, including presentations and demonstrations of the spectroscopic products and tools in the Virtual Observatory (VO) and the Hubble Legacy Archive (HLA) received special attention. (See Figures 1–2.)












*Quote from “Astrophysical Spectroscopy,” Massey & Hanson 2010.