Ground-based telescope for the first time got razor-sharp pictures of Neptune

Ground-based telescope for the first time got razor-sharp pictures of Neptune

MOSCOW, 18 Jul — RIA Novosti. Observatory VLT got razor-sharp photos of Neptune, not inferior in quality to images from the Hubble space using artificial laser star. These images and scientific data were published on the website of the European southern Observatory.

Hubble and many other orbiting telescopes have rather modest size by the standards of ground-based observatories, but they can get much clearer images of distant planets, galaxies and stars.

The reason is very simple — even the pure and rarefied air of the mountains, where he built the largest optical telescopes in the world, contains a lot of dust, germs and other particles that scatter light.

For a long time, scientists believed that these obstacles can not be destroyed, why build big telescopes with a mirror whose diameter is several tens of meters, was considered an absolute waste of money.

At the turn of the century, physicists discovered that this problem can be solved, watching not for real, and fake stars in the night sky that are “drawn” on it with the help of laser beams with defined wavelength and other properties.

These lasers, explains the science team telescope VLT, interact with certain atoms in the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere and make them glow making them look like stars. Watching them with the same telescope, you can record “clean noise” generated by the atmosphere, and remove it from the data of real observations.

The first devices of this kind have been used in practice much later, in the middle of the last decade. Only two years ago received a similar VLT laser “gun”, and now scientists have completed the full setup and adjustments for the last of the four modules of the telescope.

Her work astronomers checked, getting a new razor-sharp photos of Neptune — planet, remote from us is 4.3 billion kilometers. Its appearance remained a mystery to scientists until as it approached the probe “Voyager 2” in 1989, and until the launch of Hubble in 1992, who managed to open the almost invisible rings of Neptune.