Exceptional terahertz transparency and stability above dome A, Antarctica

H. Yang, C. A. Kulesa, C. K. Walker, N. F.H. Tothill, J. Yang, M. C.B. Ashley, X. Cui, L. Feng, J. S. Lawrence, D. M. Luong-Van, M. J. Mccaughrean, J. W.V. Storey, L. Wang, X. Zhou, Z. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


We present the first direct measurements of the terahertz atmospheric transmission above Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctic plateau at an elevation of 4.1 km. The best-quartile atmospheric transmission during the Austral winter is 80% at a frequency of 661 GHz (453 μm), corresponding to a precipitable water vapor column of 0.1 mm. Daily averages as low as 0.025 mm were observed. The Antarctic atmosphere is very stable, and excellent observing conditions generally persist for many days at a time. The exceptional conditions over the high Antarctic plateau open new far-infrared spectral windows to ground-based observation. These windows contain important spectral-line diagnostics of star formation and the interstellar medium which would otherwise only be accessible to airborne or space telescopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-494
Number of pages5
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number890
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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