Sharpest Images of Neptune Ever Seen Are Captured After Scientists Upgrade the Most Powerful Telescope on Earth With Laser Guidance Technology

Neptune has been revealed in never-before-seen detail.

The most distant planet from the sun was captured in astonishing detail after experts used lasers to upgrade the world’s most powerful land-based telescope to capture the most intimate portrait of the breathtaking blue orb to date.

The technique corrects for the effects of atmospheric turbulence above the observatory, based in the deserts of northern Chile.

Experts from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) captured the shot using its Very Large Telescope (VLT).

An upgrade to the array, which is made up of four telescopes, lets researchers use a process called the laser guide star facility on the VLTs Unit Telescope 4 (UT4).

It allows for more precise imaging over a comparatively wide field of view, capturing clusters of stars in the night sky,  as well as close details of individual celestial bodies.

With this new capability, the 26 foot (eight metre) ide UT4 reaches the theoretical limit of image sharpness and is no longer limited by atmospheric blur.

This is extremely difficult to attain and allows it to produce images comparable in sharpness to those from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomers say it will let them study unusual objects in unprecedented detail, from supermassive black holes at the centres of distant galaxies and jets from young stars, to globular clusters, supernovae, planets and their satellites.

The technology will be incorporated into ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, currently under construction and set to replace the VLT in 2024.

‘What is being raised here is more than a telescope,’ Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in a speech to mark the beginning of construction at the site in May 2017.

‘Here we see one of the greatest examples of the possibilities of science.’

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Source: Daily Mail