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.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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