science tumbled

(pretty pics / longer stories / ask)
The Very Large Telescope in Chile fires off a laser strike at the galactic center. Fluctuations in the Earth’s atmosphere distort the telescope image. The telescope can compensate using adaptive optics, but it needs some way to measure the fluctuations. The twinkling of a bright star would do nicely, but often there is no bright star in the vicinity the astronomers want to study. The solution? Use a powerful laser to create an artificial star in the night sky.

The Very Large Telescope in Chile fires off a laser strike at the galactic center. Fluctuations in the Earth’s atmosphere distort the telescope image. The telescope can compensate using adaptive optics, but it needs some way to measure the fluctuations. The twinkling of a bright star would do nicely, but often there is no bright star in the vicinity the astronomers want to study. The solution? Use a powerful laser to create an artificial star in the night sky.