The First Color Pictures From Euclid

Many a space enthusiast first became interested in the topic when they saw some astounding picture taken by one of the world’s great telescopes and began to get a sense of scale of the universe. This author personally remembers the first time he saw Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field – arguably the image that has changed his life more than any other. Given the massive size of the universe, there are always more incredible pictures to be taken, and now humanity has a new tool for that task. Euclid, the European Space Agency’s dark matter/energy hunter, has released its first set of images – and they are absolutely mesmerizing.

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There are Ideal Orbits for Space-Based Interferometers

Illustration showing the three LISA spacecraft which will be placed in orbits that form a triangular formation with center 20° behind the Earth and side length 5 million km. (The figure showing the formation is not to scale.)
Artist Impression of LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (Credit : NASA)

Ever since the telescope was invented in 1608, astronomers have striven for bigger and better telescopes. When it comes to instruments to observe the sky, bigger really is better whether you are observing faint galaxies or planets a larger collector gives higher resolution and brighter images. A paper recently published looks into different kinds of orbits around Earth which support multiple telescope systems known as interferometers at different orbits.

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Vera Rubin Observatory Could Find Up to 70 Interstellar Objects a Year

The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is under construction at Cerro Pachon, in Chile. This image shows construction progress in late 2019. The observatory should be able to spot interstellar objects like Oumuamua. Image Credit: Wil O'Mullaine/LSST .

Astronomers have discovered two known interstellar objects (ISO), ‘Oumuamua and 21/Borisov. But there could be thousands of these objects passing through the Solar System at any time. According to a new paper, the upcoming Vera Rubin Telescope will be a fantastic interstellar object hunter, and could possibly find up to 70 objects a year coming from other star systems.

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Compare Images of a Galaxy Seen by Both Hubble and JWST

NGC 5068 is a barred spiral galaxy about 20 million light-years away. The Hubble captured this image of NGC 5068 in ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light. Image Credits: NASA, ESA, R. Chandar (University of Toledo), and J. Lee (Space Telescope Science Institute); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

The James Webb Space Telescope is widely considered to be better than the Hubble Space Telescope. But the JWST doesn’t replace its elder sibling; it’s the Hubble’s successor. The Hubble is nowhere near ready to retire. It’s still a powerful science instrument with lots to contribute. Comparing images of the same object, NGC 5068, from both telescopes illustrates each one’s value and how they can work together.

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How Can We Bring Down the Costs of Large Space Telescopes?

Our space telescopes are becoming more and more powerful. But they're also enormously expensive. Can we bring the cost down? Image Credit: STScI/NASA/ESA/CSA

We’re all basking in the success of the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s fulfilling its promise as our most powerful telescope, making all kinds of discoveries that we’ve been anticipating and hoping for. But the JWST’s story is one of broken budgets, repeated requests for more time and money, and near-cancellations.

Can we make space telescopes less expensive?

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Planning is Underway for NASA’s Next Big Flagship Space Telescope

Artist rendition of a starshade being used on a future space telescope. This example shows the proposed Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx), which the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey decided to combine elements of this with the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) for a new flagship telescope, which is now known as the Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO). (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has only been operational for just over a year, but this isn’t stopping the world’s biggest space agency from discussing the next big space telescope that could serve as JWST’s successor sometime in the future. Enter the Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO), which was first proposed as NASA’s next flagship Astrophysics mission during the National Academy of Sciences’ Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020). While its potential technological capabilities include studying exoplanets, stars, galaxies, and a myriad of other celestial objects for life beyond Earth, there’s a long way to go before HWO will be wowing both scientists and the public with breathtaking images and new datasets.

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Should the Next Big Observatories Be Built on the Moon?

Concept of a radio telescope in a lunar crater. Credit: Vladimir Vustyansky

We have built telescopes in our backyards, and high upon remote mountains, and even launched telescopes into space. With each advancement in our technology, we have made amazing and surprising new discoveries about the Universe. So what should our next advance in observatories be? Based on a new paper on the arXiv, a good choice would be the lunar surface.

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Thin Flat Lenses Could Unleash a Revolution in Space Telescopes

A flat lens space telescope design as part of the Nautilus Space Observatory. Credit: Daniel Apai/University of Arizona

Thanks to the laws of physics, there are two basic rules about telescopes. The first is that the bigger your primary lens or mirror, the higher the resolution of your telescope. The second is that lenses and mirrors have to be curved to focus light into an image. So, if you want a space telescope sensitive enough to see the atmospheres of distant exoplanets, Your telescope is going to need a large curved mirror or lens. But neither of these things is technically true, as a newly proposed telescope design demonstrates.

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A Dying Red Giant Star has Thrown Out Giant Symmetrical Loops of Gas and Dust

A billowing pair of nearly symmetrical loops of dust and gas mark the death throes of an ancient red-giant star, as captured by the Gemini South telescope. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA

The Gemini South telescope has captured a new image of the glowing nebula IC 2220. Nicknamed the Toby Jug Nebula, this object got its name because it looks like an old English jug. But no fun drinking games are happening here.

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The Biggest Telescope in the World is Half Built

This image, taken in late June 2023, shows a night view of the construction site of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope at Cerro Armazones, in Chile's Atacama Desert. Credit: ESO.

The European Southern Observatory continues to build the largest telescope in the world, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Construction of the telescope began in 2014 with flattening the top of a mountain named Cerro Armazones in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

ESO just announced that progress on construction has crossed the 50% mark.  The remaining work should take another five years. When it finally comes online in 2028, the telescope will have a 39-meter (128 ft) primary mirror of 798 hexagonal segments, making it the largest telescope in the world for visible and infrared light. The new telescope should help to answer some of the outstanding questions about our Universe, such as how the first stars and galaxies formed, and perhaps even be able to take direct images of extrasolar planets.  

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