The new Magellan Adaptive Optics (MagAO) telescope, in Chile’s Atacama Desert, trumps NASA’s Hubble Telescope as the most powerful created, providing the clearest images of the night sky.
NASA’s Hubble Telescope, the undisputed champion of stellar photography for the last 23 years, has been surpassed by the new MagAO in Chile. The Hubble Telescope, which boasts an eight foot concave mirror, has been dwarfed in comparison with Magellan’s 21 foot concave mirror. While Hubble has had the advantage of being beyond the disturbance of Earth’s atmosphere, MagAO has compensated for this issue with a revolutionary innovation, adaptive optics.
MagAO also has a second mirror, 2.8 feet wide, which is razor thin and suspended by a magnetic field. This second adaptive mirror is suspended about 30 feet above the main mirror; which allows it to change shape along 585 different points on its surface up to 1,000 times per second. This allows the distortion of our atmosphere to effectively be cancelled out, allowing an image nearly as clear as being in space.
This adaptive technology not only allows MagAO to take pictures twice as clear as the Hubble Telescope, but for the first time scientists are able to take long-exposure images that can resolve objects 0.02 arc-seconds across. To put that in perspective, imagine you are looking at the moon with your naked eye and you could clearly make out a baseball diamond on the surface. Or, imaging being able to pick out a dime from over a hundred miles away, that is the kind of clarity that we are talking about. MagAO easily trumps NASA’s Hubble telescope when it comes to how deep into space it can see.
This new level of clarity also allows clearer images to be taken in the visible light spectrum. In the past, telescopes were only able to take the most accurate photos in the longer wavelengths, such as infrared and radio waves. Now we will be able to see clearer images of objects further away from us, but in the visible spectrum.
In the few days that the telescope has been in use, there have already been three new research studies published with the discoveries through the new optical systems. One of which has been a clear photograph of a binary star system in the Orion nebula, Theta 1 Ori C. It had been widely speculated that Theta 1 Ori C was a binary star system, but recent photographic evidence shows it with undeniable clarity.
It has also allowed some study of the dust and debris cloud of a near by system, that is still forming planets, as it is being affected by such a massive gravity as a binary star near by, relatively speaking.
MagAO telescope trumps NASA’s Hubble in every possible way and with this new technology, astrophysicist and astronomers alike are excited to see what can now be seen in the sky. Just like the Hubble scape telescope before it, MagAO will bring a new wave of revolutionary information and stunning photographs.
By Iam Bloom