Binocular telescope captures 3D celestial images

March 7th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 7 (IANS) A giant binocular telescope on Mount Graham in Arizona has taken celestial images in 3D for the first time, using its twin, 28-foot primary mirrors together. The images are not only a milestone for the telescope, now the world’s most powerful, but also for astronomy itself, said researchers, Sciencedaily reported.

US, Italy and Germany have partnered for the telescope, known as LBT. They are now releasing the images. University of Arizona owns part of its observing time.

The LBT has a light-collecting area equivalent to a single 11.8-metre (39-foot) surface and will combine light to produce the image sharpness equivalent to a single 75-foot telescope.

The first binocular images show three false-colour renditions of the spiral galaxy NGC 2770. The galaxy is 102 million light years from our Milky Way. The galaxy has a flat disk of stars and glowing gas tipped slightly towards the line of sight from the Earth.

The first image combines ultraviolet and green light and emphasises the clumpy regions of newly formed hot stars in the spiral arms.

The second image combines two deep red colours to highlight the smoother distribution of older, cooler stars. The third is a composite of ultraviolet, green and deep red light and shows the detailed structure of hot, moderate and cool stars in the galaxy.

“The images that this telescope will produce will be like none seen before. It will provide unmatched ability to peer into history, seeing the birth of the universe,” said Peter A. Strittmatter of University of Arizona (UA).

The UA Mirror Lab, world-renowned for pioneering mirror technologies, cast the LBT mirrors in its giant rotating furnace and polished them by a unique stressed-lap technique to virtual perfection.

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