Astronomy Picture of the Day

A Laser Strike at the Galactic Center

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#102493 by @ 01.08.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
A Laser Strike at the Galactic Center

Why are these people shooting a powerful laser into the center of our Galaxy?

Fortunately, this is not meant to be the first step in a
Galactic war.

Rather, astronomers at the
Very Large Telescope (VLT) site in
are trying to measure the distortions of
Earth's ever changing atmosphere.

Constant imaging of high-altitude atoms excited by the laser -- which appear like an
artificial star -- allow astronomers to instantly
measure atmospheric blurring.

This information is fed back to a VLT telescope mirror which is then
slightly deformed
to minimize this blurring.

In this case, a VLT was observing
our Galaxy's center,
and so Earth's atmospheric blurring in that direction was needed.

As for inter-galaxy warfare,
when viewed from
our Galaxy's center,
no causalities are expected.

In fact, the light from
this powerful laser would combine with light from our Sun to together appear
only as bright
as a faint and distant star.

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