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Astronomers take the sharpest image of the night sky to date

Digital writers

Monday, August 26, 2013, 3:53 PM -

And here it is:

Courtesy: Adam Block/UA SkyCenter

Courtesy: Adam Block/UA SkyCenter

Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a camera that allows for ultra high definition images of the cosmos.

Researchers say the camera has been in the making for more than 20 years.

"It was very exciting to see this new camera make the night sky look sharper than has ever before been possible," said UA astronomy professor Laird Close, the project's principal scientist, in a statement.

"We can, for the first time, make long-exposure images that resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across – the equivalent of a dime viewed from more than a hundred miles away. At that resolution, you could see a baseball diamond on the moon."

Scientists say the optics system, dubbed the MagAO for Magellan Adaptive Optics, is capable of capturing images twice as sharp as NASA's Hubble telescope.

"To overcome atmospheric turbulence, which plagues earth-based telescopes by causing the image to blur, Close's team developed a very powerful adaptive optics system that floats a thin (1/16th of an inch) curved glass mirror (2.8 feet across) on a magnetic field 30 feet above the telescope's primary mirror," the University of Arizona writes.

"This so-called Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) can change its shape at 585 points on its surface 1,000 times each second, counteracting the blurring effects of the atmosphere."

Simply stunning.

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