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ESOcast 13: A sharper view of the Universe with the VLT Interferometer

12 Jan 2010, 10:30 UTC
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In principle, the larger a telescope's mirror, the finer the details it can see. Continuing to increase the size of telescope mirrors is not an easy task, so astronomers have come up with a new technology to see even finer details: interferometry. This observational technique combines the light received by two or more telescopes and allows them to act as a single unit with a mirror diameter equivalent to the distance between the telescopes. Engineers designed the VLT so that it can also be used as an interferometer. Along with the four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes, four mobile 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) were included in the overall VLT concept to form the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The ATs can move between 30 different stations, and at present, the telescopes can form groups of two or three for interferometry.

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