Astronomers at the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory near Florence, Italy, and the Carnegie Observatory have developed a new type of camera that allows scientists to take sharper images of the night sky than ever before, and in visible light. Using a telescope mirror that vibrates a thousand times each second to counteract atmospheric flickering, the team has achieved unprecedented image resolution capabilities.

To overcome atmospheric turbulence, which plagues earth-based telescopes by causing the image to blur, the team developed a powerful adaptive optics system that floats a thin (1/16th of an inch) curved glass mirror (2.8 feet across) on a magnetic field 30 feet above the telescope's primary mirror. Equipped with the newly developed MagAO adaptive optics system, the Magellan Telescope revealed details about the Orion nebula.


Also: Learn about Design and Performance of a Wideband Radio Telescope.