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Four telescope link-up creates world's largest mirror

Astronomers have created the world's largest virtual optical telescope linking four telescopes in Chile, so that they operate as a single device.
The telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal observatory form a virtual mirror of 130 metre in diameter.

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VLT's Interferometer Goes Deeper

On the nights of 15-17 May 2011, astronomers successfully applied a new observing technique on ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). The new procedure is called "blind observation mode" and will allow interferometric observations to be made of targets significantly fainter than before. It has already produced detailed observations of the spectrum of a quasar, 10 times fainter than the best currently known results. The result was obtained by combining the light from three of the VLT's 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes in the AMBER beam combiner.
The ground-breaking technique, developed by a team of astronomers led by Romain Petrov from the Laboratoire Fizeau (Université de Nice, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur and CNRS, France), allows them to observe targets that would ordinarily be far too faint to be detected by an interferometer.

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Light from all Four VLT Unit Telescopes Combined for the First Time

On 17 March 2011 light collected by all four of the 8-metre Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope was successfully combined for the first time using PIONIER, a new generation instrument in the VLT Interferometer.
To have all four Unit Telescopes (UTs) finally working together as a single telescope is a major step in the development of the VLT - the original design always anticipated that the four 8-metre telescopes would be able to work either independently or together as part of the giant VLT Interferometer (VLTI). Coincidentally, the new observations took place on the 10th anniversary of the first successful combination of two beams within the VLTI.

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Very Large Telescope Interferometer
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The ESO's Very Large Telescope was used to create an incredible close-up of the star T Leporis, which is dying. This zoom-in starts just south of Orion and winds up on the star, surrounded by a dense shell of material expelled outwards as the star dies.

Position(2000): RA 05 04 50.8436, Dec -21 54 16.505


-- Edited by Blobrana at 17:32, 2009-02-18

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Hundred metre virtual telescope captures unique detailed colour image
A team of French astronomers has captured one of the sharpest colour images ever made. They observed the star T Leporis, which appears, on the sky, as small as a two-storey house on the Moon. The image was taken with ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), emulating a virtual telescope about 100 metres across and reveals a spherical molecular shell around an aged star.

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An imaging system that contains two interferometers could help astronomers in South America to see much fainter sources than ever before with unprecedented precision.
The imaging capability of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Chile will be boosted by an instrument that can measure the angle between two stars with record accuracy. Developers hope that the phase referenced imaging and microarcsecond astrometry (PRIMA) instrument will be available to the astronomical community by the end of 2009.

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The PRIMA instrument of the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) recently saw "first light" at its new home atop Cerro Paranal in Chile. When fully operational, PRIMA will boost the capabilities of the VLTI to see sources much fainter than any previous interferometers, and enable astrometric precision unmatched by any other existing astronomical facility. PRIMA will be a unique tool for the detection of exoplanets.

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