News & CommentAstronomy

How to Turn a Big Scope Into a Virtual Behemoth

Science  01 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5364, pp. 671
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5364.671

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With an effective diameter of 16.4 meters, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) will be the biggest in the world. But by treating the VLT's four 8.2-meter mirrors as if they were part of an imaginary mirror as wide as the 130 meters that separates the VLT's two end scopes, it can provide the angular resolution, or image sharpness, of a telescope 130 meters across. However, creating such an optical interferometer is a huge technical challenge.