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Don’t worry—ESO scientists aren’t trying to instigate interstellar warfare. At Yepun, one of the Very Large Telescope’s four Unit Telescopes, researchers are using this powerful laser to study the center of the galaxy. The wavelength of this Laser Star Guide (LSG) has been particularly calibrated to excite sodium atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The glowing atoms serve as a sort of “artificial star.” The imposter stars are only 90 km away rather than light-years, and so they provide a reference point for researchers to measure the distortions created by our atmosphere. Once the measurement is made, the telescope mirror is deformed in a way that mitigates the atmospheric blurring so that scientists can more accurately study the galactic core. -RLOSourceImage credit: Yuri Beletsky / ESO View high resolution

Don’t worry—ESO scientists aren’t trying to instigate interstellar warfare. At Yepun, one of the Very Large Telescope’s four Unit Telescopes, researchers are using this powerful laser to study the center of the galaxy. 

The wavelength of this Laser Star Guide (LSG) has been particularly calibrated to excite sodium atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The glowing atoms serve as a sort of “artificial star.” The imposter stars are only 90 km away rather than light-years, and so they provide a reference point for researchers to measure the distortions created by our atmosphere. Once the measurement is made, the telescope mirror is deformed in a way that mitigates the atmospheric blurring so that scientists can more accurately study the galactic core. 

-RLO

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Image credit: Yuri Beletsky / ESO

(Source: facebook.com)

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    cool space laser for next time i feel down about humanity being mugs in general. nice reminder that there are smart...
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