1.5m telescope with laser, Starfire Optical Range

1.5m telescope with laser, Starfire Optical Range

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Credit: DAVID PARKER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Starfire laser beam. Time-exposure image of a copper vapour laser beam (green) being projected by a 1.5-metre telescope at the Starfire Optical Range (SOR). Each star is creating light trail, as have the lights of an aircraft (top right to lower left). This laser creates an artificial 'star' in the upper atmosphere, within the field of view of the SOR's main 3.5-metre telescope. The latter detects any change in shape of the 'star' due to air turbulence, & uses a flexible adaptive optics mirror to compensate. This counters the familiar 'twinkling' of stars, and offers highly-improved image resolution. The SOR was developed by Robert Fugate and built in New Mexico, USA.

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Keywords: adaptive optics, aircraft trail, astronomy, astrophysics, laser, optical telescope, starfire, starfire beam, starfire telescope, telescope, time exposure

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