UVEX meets the goals set out in the Astro2020 Decadal report, which emphasizes Unveiling the Drivers of Galaxy Growth and New Windows on the Dynamic Universe as key themes to be explored in the upcoming decade, as well as providing a legacy of UV data that will open vast discovery space for the future.

The Low-Mass, Low-Metallicity Galaxy Frontier 

The Low-Mass, Low-Metallicity Frontier

Low-mass (M<109 Msun), low-metallicity (1–50% Zsolar) galaxies dominate the hot, metal-poor early universe, power cosmic reionization, and constitute the majority of galaxies in the local universe. Despite their importance, they remain one of the least explored galaxy frontiers due to their intrinsic faintness and spread across the sky. UVEX will provide a comprehensive census of local, low-mass, low-metallicity (LMLZ) galaxies, which is crucial for understanding how their environments affect their properties. These local LMLZ galaxies are key for understanding the processes of galaxy formation, stellar evolution and demise, and the formation of compact objects in metal-poor environments. UVEX will identify low-mass, low-metallicity galaxies in the nearby Universe, diagnose the nebular emission of analogs to high-redshift galaxies, and study hot and stripped stars in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, our neighboring low-metallicity laboratories.

New Views of the Dynamic Universe

New Views of the Dynamic UV Universe

A golden era of time-domain and multi-messenger astronomy is upon us as new, panchromatic observatories such as SKA and Rubin become operational, and upgrades to LIGO and Virgo expand our capacity to detect gravitational wave events. We expect these observatories to identify hundreds of thousands of transients and open up a tremendous discovery space. UVEX’s rapid imaging and spectroscopic follow-up will provide a vital new window on the dynamic universe by probing the short-lived UV emission from merging neutron stars, performing spectral follow-up of the first hours of core collapse supernovae, and providing a community resource for target-of-opportunity observations.

A Legacy of Deep, Synoptic All-Sky Data

All-Sky Survey

With a cadenced ultraviolet all-sky survey 50–100x more sensitive than GALEX, UVEX will provide the deep complementary two-band UV data to a host of modern optical and infrared wide-area sky surveys from observatories such as Rubin, Roman, Euclid, and SPHEREx, and probe the changing ultraviolet sky on cadences ranging from 12 hours to six months. Additionally, regardless of the type of observation UVEX is performing at any time, both its wide-field imaging and 1-degree-long spectroscopic slit instruments will operate continuously, providing a wealth of serendipitous data with every pointing. In this way, UVEX will provide the community with a rich legacy of UV data, enabling a broad range of science beyond UVEX’s own science objectives and opening vast discovery space for the future.


Science with the Ultraviolet Explorer - Kulkarni et al. 2021