Astronomers at the
Project's principal scientist
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.
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.
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. (ANI)
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