Artificial star


How telescopes on Earth take images as if they were in space.


Y. Beletsky (LCO) / ESO

Taken from inside the dome of the fourth Unit Telescope of European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, this spectacular shot captures the Laser Guide Star in action.

By creating a glowing spot – an artificial star – in the Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 90 kilometres, the light coming back from the laser can be used as a reference to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion. This allows the telescope to produce astronomical images almost as sharp as if the telescope were in space.

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