The Network for Ultraviolet Astronomy (NUVA)

The Network for UltraViolet Astrophysics (NUVA) is a pan-european network set-up to identify the needs of the astronomical community in the UV domain and eventually propose actions to structure it around new projects. It was first established in 2004 within  the OPTical Infrared COordination Network for astronomy in the FP6 program and produced the European road-map for UV astronomy that was included in the ASTRONET report in 2008. Currently, the NUVA activity has been moved into the recently created IAU working group of UV astronomy within Division B (Facilities, Technologies and Data Science) to elaborate a road map for UV astronomy at global scale that can exploit the synergies between all interested agencies and the academia to coordinate the development of UV mission at all funding levels (from mini, cubesats, to Moon based telescopes or large coordinated missions). 


The NUVA Community

There is a broad interest in Europe both in UV science and instrumentation. The NUVA elaborated the road map for European UV astronomy/technology back in 2008 and keeps coordinating the community (for instance through the organization of the NUVA workshops every three years). UV astronomy series are produced from the workshops that are published as special volumes of the Journal: Astrophysics and Space Science. The publications are widely distributed and include contributions not only from European activities but, in practice, from world-wide activities.  Active European members of the NUVA are distributed per country as per the Figure.

Distribution per countryDistribution per country of active European members  in the NUVA

The community scientific interest cover all possible areas of astrophysics: planetary atmospheres and aurorae, minor bodies in the solar system, exoplanets, star formation and young planetary disks, stellar activity, stellar winds, stellar atmospheres, white dwarfs research, massive stars, stellar populations, interstellar medium (from turbulence or the Local Bubble physics to planetary nebulae and supernovae remnants), interacting binaries and cataclysmic variables, Novae and SNe, star formation at galactic scales and the history of star formation in the Universe at z<2, chemical evolution, intergalactic medium, gravitational lensing and astrochemistry. By far, the stellar astrophysics (from young stars to cataclysmic variables) community dominates the NUVA. Main contributors to all these fields can be found in the NUVA publication series.


The NUVA publication series:

  • Challenges in UV Astronomy. Eds. Ana I. Gómez de Castro, Beatriz Barbuy, Jorge Melnick, Noah Brosch & Mikhail Sachkov, 2014, Astrophysics and Space Science, Special Volume, 354
  • UV Astronomy 2011. Eds. Boris Shustov, Ana I. Gómez de Castro, Mikhail Sachkov & Michael Dopita, 2012, Ed Springer Science+Business Media B.V., ISBN 978-94-007-2572-0
  • Space Astronomy:  the UV window to the Universe. Eds. Ana I Gómez de Castro & Noah Brosch, 2009,

  • UV Astronomy: stars from birth to death. Eds. Ana I. Gómez de Castro & Martin A. Barstow, 2007, Ed. Universidad Complutense, ISBN: 978-84-7491-852-6
  • Fundamental Questions in Astrophysics: Guidelines for future UV observations. Eds. Ana I Gómez de Castro & Willem Wamsteker, 2006, Ed. Springer, ISBN: 1-4020-4838-6, 1-4020-4839-4


The Road map

In 2008, the NUVA submitted to ASTRONET[1] its road map for UV astronomy: exploit HST, collaborate in the WSO-UV Russian-led mission and prepare for a 8-10 m class UV mission NASA led .



Non-exhaustive list of on-going UV projects/activities in UV astronomy
(for further info)

By chronological order, the main activities taking place in UV instrumentation in Europe are:


The WSO-UV mission. This a Russian led mission to build and operate with 170 cm primary space telescope that will be orbiting at HEO (geosynchronous) with intended launch in 2021. WSO-UV will work only in the UV (1150-3150 Å) and will be provided with instrumentation for high dispersion (55,000) in the full range, long-slit low dispersion (1,200) spectroscopy also in the full range and imaging capabilities: high angular resolution (<100 mas) imaging in the 1150-1750 Å range and moderate angular resolution (0.3 arcsec), wide field of view imaging in the 2000-6000  Å range. The instruments will be equipped with new technology CCD detectors develop by e2V for the project that will provide a unique sensitivity and dynamical range if lab expectations are fulfilled. Instruments integration will start in 2018. Spain is partner of ROSCOSMOS in the project, contributes to the development of the imaging instrument and the software for science operations. WSO-UV science will be managed from two operations centers located in the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow and in the campus of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. WSO-UV will have a core science program and guaranteed time for the countries funding the project. Moreover, there will be open time to the world wide science community.


The Fresnel Interferometer Array. This is a France led proposal to carry out high angular resolution, high dynamical range imaging suitable to image exoplanets and resolve structures to scales of 0.01 mas in its optimal configuration. The optical design is being developed at the Toulouse University/Mid Pyrinees Observatory/IRAP. Image is formed by diffraction (instead of the common reflection or refraction) in a two ships, formation flying space telescope. One of the ships deploys the screen diffracting the radiation and another contents the optics. The proposal was submitted to ESA call for medium size missions in 2009 but was rejected because of its low TRL. The concept has been successfully tested in the optical range on the ground using the Nice telescope (2011), and in the near UV (air UV) in the lab. A prototype is under study to be installed in the International Space Station to reach high TRL in the far UV.


The EUVO proposal was submitted by the NUVA community in answer to the call issued in March 2013 by the European Space Agency (ESA) for white papers and science drivers for ESA Cosmic Vision program. EUVO was a proposal to build a large ultraviolet-visible observatory (EUVO) to address unexplored areas of the Cosmic Vision program. The consortium behind the EUVO proposal raised the concern about the feasibility to address key issues in the Cosmic Vision program such as the investigation of Planets and Life, the chemical evolution of the Universe or the interaction between galaxies and intergalactic medium, without a large UV facility to observe diffuse matter in space. In a subsequent article, a list of requirements was produced for such a facility.


ARAGO (former UVMAG), SIRIUS and MESSIER are proposals submitted by the European Astronomy Community to ESA for subsequent calls.


The ARAGO mission is intended to carry out spectropolarimetry in the 1190 – 8880 Å with dispersion between 25,000 in the far UV to 35,000 in the red end to measure the magnetic fields of stars. The mission will be submitted to ESA call for M5; the diameter of the primary mirror is 130 cm.

SIRIUS is an S-class mission aimed at exploring stellar environments and the interactions between stellar sources in the nearby interstellar medium. It is a highly efficient normal incidence R~5000 EUV spectrograph where focusing and dispersion are deliver by a single optical element, a figure multilayer coated diffraction grating. It will observe the sky in two spectral bands covering 18-22 nm and 19.5-25 nm.


The MESSIER satellite is an S-class mission is designed to explore the extremely low surface brightness universe at UV and optical wavelengths.  The two driving science cases target the mildly- and highly non-linear regimes of structure formation to test two key predictions of the LCDM scenario. The satellite is proposed to drift scan the entire sky in 6 bands covering the 200-1000 nm wavelength range to reach the unprecedented surface brightness levels of 34 mag/arcsec2 in the optical and 37 mag/arcsec2 in the UV.


Further details on these projects can be found in the NUVA series. 

The site is currently under redesign to coordinate with the activities of the WG-UVA
June, 2016