A section of Galactic Globular Cluster M3 as seen without (left) and with (right) Laser Adaptive Optics
The system's green lasers shooting into the night-time sky over the MMT Observatory
Laser Adaptive Optics study leader Michael Hart, in front of a prototype of the adaptive mirror
The verse “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are” could, in fact, refer to the frustration felt by astronomers trying to view celestial objects obscured by turbulence in the earth’s atmosphere. It’s that turbulence that causes stars and other heavenly bodies to twinkle, and it’s one of the reasons that space-based telescopes like the Hubble can see those objects more clearly than telescopes down here on the ground. Recently, however, a team of astronomers from the University of Arizona developed a technique that allows them to effectively turn off the twinkling over a large field of view, allowing them to get Hubble-quality images in a fraction of the usual time.
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