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World's Largest Virtual Optical Telescope Created 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-very-large-telescope dept.
erice writes "Astronomers in Chile linked four telescopes together to form a single virtual mirror 130 meters in diameter. Previous efforts had linked two telescopes but this is the first time that all four had been linked. 'The process that links separate telescopes together is known as interferometry. In this mode, the VLT becomes the biggest ground-based optical telescope on earth. Besides creating a gigantic virtual mirror, interferometry also greatly improves the telescope's spatial resolution and zooming capabilities.'"
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World's Largest Virtual Optical Telescope Created

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  • by wierdling (609715) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @04:58AM (#38925289) Homepage
    If you meet their requirements, you can register and download data from http://archive.eso.org/eso/eso_archive_main.html [eso.org]
  • Ehhh, not exactly. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shag (3737) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:06AM (#38925317) Homepage

    It's not the equivalent of a 130-meter diameter mirror; it's the equivalent of that mirror with all but four 8.2-meter diameter pieces of it blacked out. Yes, you can get a sharper image using interferometry, but your total light-gathering area is 211 square meters, not 13,273 square meters. That's going to affect exposure times. But still, it's cool. :)

    • by jgardia (985157) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @09:23AM (#38926281)

      Of course, you don't have the light gathering capacity of a 130m telescope, but you have the spatial resolution of a130m telescope.

      • by alreaud (2529304)
        Just what one needs to image the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. If they can get the timing right, between this set of 4 telescopes operating as one, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, and the Spitzer IR Space Telescope, we could have a virtual telescope in the IR band that is easily 30,000 km wide.
        http://www.keckobservatory.org/ [keckobservatory.org]
        http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/ [caltech.edu]

        Btw: This idea increased spatial resolution using very long baseline interferometry is why it would be worth a few billion dollars to sen
  • Why not plan for an array at one of the Lagrange points?

    Just asking....

    • by Zorpheus (857617)

      Why not plan for an array at one of the Lagrange points?

      Just asking....

      Actually exactly this is planned already [wikipedia.org].

      • Why not plan for an array at one of the Lagrange points?

        Just asking....

        Actually exactly this is planned already [wikipedia.org].

        If by planned you mean considered and then abandoned..

        The study of this proposed mission ended in 2007 with no further activities planned.

        Ever since I heard about interferometry I thought we should put some satellites at far distant points (perhaps Earth's L2 and L3 points, with a repeater at L4 or L5 so the signal can get around the sun) and get some really impressive pictures of distant objects.

  • Can we get to see the Apollo landing sites? Some sharp images this time?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bmo (77928)

      No, because no matter how high resolution the pics are, it will never be enough to satisfy the moon hoax morons.

      I suggest that we round up the hoaxers, and in an attempt to prove to them that we really did land on the Moon in 1969, send them to Tranquility base, let them out, and remove their helmets, because the visors would distort the view.

      And with their dying breaths, you would see them mouth the words "movie set."

      --
      BMO

      • by bmo (77928)

        Follow-up for resolution limit for a 130M telescope looking at objects on the Moon.

        Best resolution = distance to object * wavelength / diameter of mirror

        Best resolution = 400,000,000M * 500nm / 130M

        1.5M.

        You'll get fuzzy images regardless.

        For what the Hubble could see, just substitute 2.4 for the mirror diameter. You get roughly 80 meters across. This is why Hoaxers are morons when they say "just point Hubble at the Moon."

        --
        BMO

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        No, because no matter how high resolution the pics are, it will never be enough to satisfy the moon hoax morons.

        And remember, if it's TOO high resolution, it'll just scream "PHOTOSHOP!" because the lander photo will be less blurry than the moon photos beside it.

    • by wisebabo (638845)

      Actually, I think(?) that a giant scope like these could never look at the Moon (and maybe Venus, the next brightest object in the night sky) is because the light gathering capability would burn the sensors.

      I mean the light amplification from something 8m across down to about a centimeter(?) must be close to a million fold. So imagine moonlight a million times brighter. Gives new meaning to the expression "blinded me with science".

      But maybe they put a piece of cardboard in front of the mirror and punch a

  • I heard on NPR the other day a story about Roger Angel, U. Arizona mirror guru, who's making 27-footers for installation in Chile by, I think it was, 2020. The amazing part is casting to that accuracy -- without exact uniformity. These 27-foot mirrors have to focus slightly off-center. Here's the transcript: http://m.npr.org/news/Science/145837380 [npr.org]
  • "Besides creating a gigantic virtual mirror, interferometry also greatly improves the telescope's spatial resolution and zooming capabilities."

    Should read:

    "Interferometry greatly improves the telescopes' spatial resolution."

    • by plover (150551) *

      Here it is straight from CSI: VLT

      "It looks like the Chileans ..."
      [puts on sunglasses]
      "zoomed and enhanced."
      YEEAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

  • (Terrestrial Planet Finder)

    I understand that (one of) the designs for the TPF was for four optically linked telescopes spanning about(?) 100m that using interferometry/optical nulling/coronagraphs could isolate enough light from a planet to get its spectrograph and thus determine if it (might) have life.

    Of course the TPF was not only supposed to be in space but in DEEP space (in Jupiter orbit, at the trojan point?) so as to avoid the zodiacal light but is this overcome by the MUCH greater light capturing ab

  • Why not get a couple thousand 10" reflecting telescopes on digital servo mounts (~$1,500 each), hook them up to HD web cams (~$1,500 each), and use netbooks (~$300 each) with unlimited data plans (~$500/yr) to connect to database that uses a volunteer-based distributed computing network to process the data using inteferometry? You'd effectively have a telescope with a mirror the size of the Earth for about the cost of a professional level telescope. It would be orders of magnitude more powerful than anythin

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