A comparison between images taken with and without the MagAO system turned on. Image credits: Photograph by Laird Close
When it comes to visible light photos of the night sky, Hubble has been king. That’s because Earth-bound telescopes — even those with much higher-quality optical systems than Hubble — must deal with the blurring effects of our planet’s atmosphere.
A newly developed camera called VisAO, however, has done away with that problem, and in the process enabled astronomers to take the highest-resolution visible light photos ever captured of the night sky.
The camera system was developed over the course of 20 years thanks to the combined effort of astronomers from the University of Arizona, the Arcetri Observatory in Italy and the Carnegie Observatory. And when the latest version of the camera was finally deployed in the high desert of Chile at the Magellan 21 foot telescope, the results blew away the astronomers’ expectations.