University of Rochester

Local Astronomer Takes Aim at Hyades with Orbiting Telescope

September 5, 1997

The European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) will turn its eyes toward a cluster of stars in the constellation Taurus this weekend as part of a Rochester man's search for celestial objects known as brown dwarfs -- failed stars that never gained the mass necessary to sustain a fusion reaction like true stars do.

William Forrest, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, has 25 hours of observing time coming up on ISO, a telescope that has been scanning the heavens at infrared wavelengths since November 1995. His first two hours are scheduled for late Saturday night, Sept. 6, when the telescope points its camera toward an area of the sky that Forrest has pinpointed as holding possible brown dwarf candidates -- the Hyades cluster in the constellation Taurus. The data will be beamed back to Earth and eventually sent to Forrest on computer tape, which he and research associate Babar Ali will analyze for several months in their hunt for the objects.