Feeds

VLT brings whole sky into focus

Wider horizons for adaptive optics

Top three mobile application threats

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) have been celebrating their first pictures with the delightfully titled MAD: Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator.

This little gadget (see picture) allows the scientists to correct for atmospheric turbulence in their observations, meaning the images they receive are of near-space quality. It also allows for image correction over the full 2x2 arcminute field of view for the first time.

Some scary looking instruments

Atmospheric turbulence causes stars to twinkle, but also blurs the fine detail of images taken from ground-based telescopes.

Adaptive optics use a computer-controlled deformable mirror to overcome the distortion brought about by the variations in the atmosphere. A dedicated camera known as a wavefront sensor passes data to the computer which makes real-time optical corrections based on the incoming data.

The technique was first used back in 1989 at the La Silla Observatory. But until now, AO systems have only been able to correct for the distortion over a small portion of the sky, up to 15 arcseconds.

The test "pictures" were taken on 25 March and were centred on three 11 magnitude stars within a 1.5 arcminute diameter circle of sky in Omega Centauri. The 'scope will continue to observe this region for a number of nights to see how well the equipment performs in a variety of viewing conditions.

"The aim of MAD is to prove the feasibility and performances of new adaptive optics techniques," says Norbert Hubin, head of the AO group at ESO.

The findings from these early tests at the third unit of the VLT will prove critical to the development of future instruments, he explained.

ESO director general Catherine Cesarsky offered her congratulations to everyone who worked on the project, describing the images as "a tremendous achievement" that would open new perspectives for very large telescopes. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.