This close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3.(Photo: NASA via AFP/Getty Images)
By Ruth Brown, Newser
Scientists are currently hard at work on a new telescope that
promises to have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope -
but we're going to have to wait awhile.
So far, only one
of an eventual seven massive mirrors has been completely cast and
polished for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Each mirror is 27 feet
across, weighs 20 tons, and takes a year to polish, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The project's cost? $700 million, reports Space.com.
expect to be able to make observations and spectrographic studies of
the first stars that formed after the Big Bang," says the VP of the
nonprofit coordinating the project, per the Times. "We'll be able to
observe the earliest galaxies, as those stars assembled, and answer the
question, when did black holes arrive?"
things go as planned, the GMT will be installed in Chile's Atacama
Desert in 2022. If that sounds a long time to wait for better space
photos, good news: The current Magellan telescope has just been upgraded
to be twice as sharp as the Hubble.
Astronomers have already used
the new optics system, called MagAO, to capture a picture of two stars
they've never been able to separate before.
"I have been imagining
Theta 1 Ori C for over 20 years and never could I directly see that it
was in fact two stars," says a scientist from the University of Arizona,
per CBS News. "But as soon as we turned on the MagAO system it was
beautifully split into two stars just 0.032 arcseconds apart."
As for the good old Hubble, it recently found a blue planet-not that you'd want to visit.