The artificial laser guide star makes it possible to apply adaptive optics systems that counteract the blurring effect of the atmosphere almost anywhere in the Earth's sky.
On Jan. 28 at 11:07 p.m. local time the researchers launched a laser beam of several watts from the site of ESO's Very Large Telescope array, producing an artificial star about 55 miles into the atmosphere. Despite this star being about 20 times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the unaided eye, the scientists said it is bright enough for adaptive optics to measure and correct the atmosphere's blurring effect.
The event marked the culmination of five years of collaborative work by a team of scientists and engineers from ESO and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, German, and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.
Edited by DR. YO, 24 February 2006 - 07:29 PM.