With adaptive optics, ground-based telescopes are able to compensate for atmospheric distortions to bring their views of the universe up to par with space-based telescopes like Hubble. An absolutely monstrous new telescope is currently under construction, with a 28-foot mirror starting to be spun just this week.
We're not entirely sure what's out there beyond our solar system, but NASA is betting that it's going to be full of zebras or something, and they want to spend a special telescope out there to take a look around.
Astronomers in Chile have just fired up the ALMA radio telescope array for the very first time. ALMA is destined to be the largest, most expensive, and most powerful telescope array on the planet, and when the array of 66 telescopes is completed in 2013, ALMA will be able to resolve images of galaxies that are an incredible ten times sharper than the best that we can get from Hubble.
We're finding (potentially) habitable exoplanets more and more frequently, to the point where spotting another one is just not news unless it has two suns or something. New data from the Kepler space telescope may make further exoplanet discoveries even less exciting, now that we can guess just how many of them might be out there: it's lots.
The Russians have been busy. Very busy. So busy, in fact, that they've managed to successfully deploy a radio telescope with an effective antenna width of 220,000 miles right under our very noses. And it's a pretty neat trick, considering that the the entire Earth is only 8,000 miles wide.
The 1,700 pound sensor that makes up the wide-angle eye of the VLT Survey Telescope (aka VST) is exactly like the sensor in your digital camera. Except, you know, bigger. A lot bigger. We're talking an array of 32 individual CCD sensors that together take 268 megapixels worth of images of outer space. Meet OmegaCam.
The Hubble space telescope is tirelessly peering into the universe around us, and a group of researchers recently confirmed that Hubble has set a record for the most distant object seen yet. What's more, the existence of the distant galaxy is raising new questions.
Oh, Hubble! How we love the view of distant galaxies you offer us. Up today is the Lagoon Nebula in the Sagittarius constellation. Hubble's taken a picture so clear that you can see every ripple in the nebula's murky starscape.
Out in what's known as the Virgo A galaxy is a black hole that's six billion times larger than our sun. That makes it a pretty good target for astronomers, who used the Chandra X-ray telescope and the Very Large Array to check the black hole out.
Looking out into the depth and width of the universe is a big darn job, but luckily we've got big darn telescopes to do it with. Not only are they big, but a lot of these telescopes are pretty crazy...