ARlogo Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 2001. 39: 249-307
Copyright © 2001 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved

Reprinted with kind permission from Annual Reviews, 4139 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, California, USA

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Michael G. Hauser 1 and Eli Dwek 2

1 Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland 21218; e-mail:
2 Laboratory for Astronomy and Solar Physics, Code 685, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771; e-mail:

Abstract. The cosmic infrared background records much of the radiant energy released by processes of structure formation that have occurred since the decoupling of matter and radiation following the Big Bang. In the past few years, data from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission provided the first measurements of this background, with additional constraints coming from studies of the attenuation of TeV gamma-rays. At the same time, there has been rapid progress in resolving a significant fraction of this background with the deep galaxy counts at infrared wavelengths from the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) instruments and at submillimeter wavelengths from the Submillimeter Common User Bolometer Array (SCUBA) instrument. This article reviews the measurements of the infrared background and sources contributing to it and discusses the implications for past and present cosmic processes.

KEY WORDS: extragalactic background light, cosmology, COBE, galaxy evolution, cosmic chemical evolution, background fluctuations, TeV gamma-rays, integrated galaxy light.

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