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Session 70 - Cosmic Backgrounds and the Distant Universe.
Oral session, Thursday, June 11

[70.04] Hot Universe Background Explorer (HUBE)

R. C. Henry, J. Murthy, H. Ford (JHU), K. Peacock (APL), D. N. Burrows (PSU), B. W. Smith, J. J. Bloch (LANL)

The study of diffuse backgrounds has played an important role in the recent history of astronomy. From the microwave discovery of the 2.7 K background to the soft X-ray detection of coronal gas to the diffuse H_2 emission from warm interstellar gas in our galaxy to the infrared mapping of wisps of dust at high galactic latitudes, diffuse background astronomy has provided fundamental insights into the nature of the universe. As the various regions of the electromagnetic spectrum have been explored, their diffuse backgrounds have been found to arise from the widest possible range of sources: from the local interstellar medium to the farthest reaches of the observable universe; from the wrinkled echo of the Big Bang to the million degree plasma between the stars.

Most astronomers are ``point-source" astronomers, and the history of astronomy space missions is that few have been dedicated to the elucidation of the nature of the truly diffuse radiation. And yet a large fraction of the total electromagnetic energy in the universe occurs in the form of diffuse radiation. In some spectral ranges, we do not yet know the fraction of radiation that is diffuse; we are dealing with genuinely unexplored frontiers.

We will describe the extraordinary science that can be obtained through a MIDEX mission that is dedicated to the exploration of the diffuse emission in the far ultraviolet and soft X-ray regions of the spectrum, where the diffuse radiation is dominated by emission from the hottest components of the interstellar medium and, perhaps, from the intergalactic medium. HUBE currently enjoys the status of being NASA's MIDEX Alternate Astrophysics Mission. We are re-proposing HUBE in the current MIDEX competition with a much broader scientific set of goals, aiming at a definitive spectroscopic survey of the diffuse background over a greatly-expanded spectral range.

Our HUBE proposal effort is being supported by Ball Aerospace Corporation.

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