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Nautilus: New Lens Concept for Space-based Array

14 Aug 2019, 18:36 UTC
Nautilus: New Lens Concept for Space-based Array
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As we’ve been talking about the limitations of giant telescopes in recent days — and a possible solution in David Kipping’s idea of a ‘terrascope’ — it pays to keep in mind how our ability to collect light has changed over the years. Thus the figure below, which is drawn from a new paper from Daniel Apai and Tom Milster (both at the University of Arizona) and colleagues. Here we see four centuries of evolution for light-collecting power through refracting and reflecting telescopes, with the introduction of segmented mirrors making larger apertures possible.

Image: This is Figure 1 from the paper (click to enlarge). Caption: Evolution of light-collecting area of ground-based (blue, green) and space-based (red) telescopes. The evolution is characterized by alternating stages of slow growth (when existing technology is scalable) and pauses (when existing technology cannot be scaled up). The data points represent the installation of the largest telescopes in their era and are connected to highlight general trends. Gray regions mark the approximate stages in the evolution when lenses, monolithic mirrors, and then segmented mirrors become to massive to be viable with existing technology. Telescopes used multiple different technological solutions to collect light. Large jumps in diameter ...

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