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Telescope

— Science

Lockheed Martin shrinks the telescope

After 400 years, the original telescope design is getting a major upgrade. Part of a DARPA funded project, Lockheed Martin's Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance (SPIDER) telescope replaces the large primary lenses used in refracting telescopes with an array of tiny ones that allow the instruments to shrink by a factor of 10 to 100.

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— Space

Astronomers trace the magnetic field of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy

A team of astronomers has successfully detected magnetic fields present around the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. It is thought that these magnetic fields are the driving factor behind a mechanism that sends intense pulses of galaxy sculpting radiation blasting thousands of light-years into space from the event horizon of a spinning black hole.

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— Space

First images ever taken of a planet being formed, 450 light-years from Earth

Of the many new exoplanets discovered over the past two decades, all have been identified as established, older planets. Some with incredible winds raging across their surfaceand others that may be able to support life because of their position in the habitable zone, but none have been acknowledged as newly-forming protoplanets. Now scientists working at the Keck observatory have spied just such a planet in the constellation of Taurus, some 450 light-years from Earth, that is only just beginning its life, collecting matter and spinning into a brand new world.

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— Space

First observations made with deep-space water-hunting instrument

A team of astronomers has made the first observations with a cutting-edge water-hunting instrument. The instrument, known as the Swedish–ESO PI receiver for APEX (SEPIA), is not only suited for identifying signatures of water and other molecules in the Milky Way but also in other galaxies, and it may even be capable of detecting ancient water dating back to the early Universe.

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— Space

ESO's VISTA telescope spies hidden Milky Way component

An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way – a thin disk of variable stars hidden in the galactic bulge. The observations, made using the ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) telescope conflict with current theories regarding the composition of the center of our galaxy.

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— Space

World's most powerful digital camera gets the go-ahead

A smartphone with a 16-megapixel camera may seem cutting edge, but it won't impress astronomers now that the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has given the green light to start construction of the world's largest digital camera. With a resolution of 3.2-gigapixels (enough to need 1,500 high-definition television screens to display one image), the new camera is at the heart of the 8.4-meter (27.5-ft) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) now under construction atop Cerro Pachón in Chile.

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— Space

New study tracks the death of our Universe

A new study has measured 200,000 galaxies in an effort to chart the rate at which our Universe is outputting energy, and effectively dying. The study is part of the larger Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, a comprehensive spectroscopic survey seeking to create a model of energy production by the Universe, both in the present day and in times past.

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