UA Astronomers Take Sharpest Photos Ever of the Night Sky

Thanks to new technology developed in part at the UA, astronomers can now view objects in the sky at unprecedented sharpness in visible light. Using a telescope mirror that vibrates a thousand times each second to counteract atmospheric flickering, the team has achieved image resolution capabilities that could see a baseball diamond on the moon.

Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a new type of camera that allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before. The team has been developing this technology for more than 20 years at observatories in Arizona, most recently at the Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT, and has now deployed the latest version of these cameras in the high desert of Chile at the Magellan 6.5-meter telescope. 

The twofold improvement over past efforts rests on the fact that for the first time, a telescope with a large diameter primary mirror is being used for digital photography at its theoretical resolution limit in visible wavelengths – light that the human eye can see.

These images are also at least twice as sharp as what the Hubble Space Telescope can make, because with its 21-foot diameter mirror, the Magellan telescope is much larger than Hubble with its 8-foot mirror. Until now, Hubble always produced the best visible light images, since even large ground-based telescope with complex adaptive optics imaging cameras could only make blurry images in visible light.

Full Article

Credit: Laird Close and Ya-Lin Wu; NASA, C.R. O’Dell and S.K. Wong/ Adam Block/UA SkyCenter


Posted 8 months ago with 776 notes
Tagged:AstronomysciencestarsOrion NebulaspaceMagellan TelescopeMagAO

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