UV astrophysics beyond the IUE Final Archive
08 May 1998The Conference "UV Astrophysics beyond the IUE Final Archive" (11-14 November 1997) was organised to mark the end of the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) project by the three Agencies responsible for the design and operations of this ultraviolet telescope in space. It represented the last time that the large community of astronomers utilising this amazing Space Observatory would get together to review the progress made in astrophysics using the results of IUE.
This made it rather a unique scientific meeting since it brought together many scientists (170 participants from 16 countries) in all fields of astrophysics, extending from the Solar System to the most remote corners of the Universe, and everything in between. Traditionally the IUE Conference also includes recent results from many other observing facilities available to the modern astronomer, since IUE, more than any other instrument, has shown the power of observations covering a large domain in the electromagnetic spectrum. Put together, these factors have created a synergetic conference where the current status of observational astrophysics is brought together in a unique way and confronted with our theoretical understanding of the Universe.
The conference was also used to present to the community the result of the reprocessing by the IUE Project Team of all 104 468 spectral images obtained with IUE, as well as to present of the associated modern distribution system developed by ESA, INES (IUE Newly Extracted Spectra). A prototype version of this system can be accessed at: http://ines.vilspa.esa.es
The absence of a future general observatory for the ultraviolet domain in the future programmes of the space agencies was addressed in open discussions at the end of the meeting. Although it is clear that some ultraviolet access will remain available through HST, FUSE, GALLEX and XMM, it was recognised that these missions can only partially fulfill the need for a more dedicated observatory. Possible future needs were identified in the context of a World Space Observatory, a concept which would consider flexible access to space windows for astrophysics in a world-wide context, and a working group was formed to study the associated problems further.