Here is the best place on Earth from which to observe the night sky

Here is the best place on Earth from which to observe the night sky

Dome A in Antarctica is the ideal place on Earth to place a telescope for observing space: atmospheric turbulence would be minimal and would guarantee performance equivalent to that of current space telescopes

(photo: Getty Images) About 1200 kilometers from the ocean in the middle of Antarctica, on a plateau at 4 thousand meters above sea level there is a magical place for astronomers. It's called Dome A and according to a team from the University of British Columbia here are the best conditions for observing Space from Earth: not only the absence of light pollution and satellite interference, but also minimal atmospheric turbulence. There is only one obstacle: temperatures can reach -90 ° C.

Atmospheric turbulence

Astronomical telescopes on Earth are not positioned randomly. They are located in points on the planet that allow the best possible observation. And it's not just for the dark. There are other factors that influence observation, for example the interference of satellites.

But the nightmare of astronomers is another and is called atmospheric turbulence: in the lower layer of the atmosphere the masses of air move causing changes in density and therefore in the refractive index of light. The result is that the image of the celestial bodies is not stable: the intensity of the light fluctuates and the apparent dimensions of the object change. That is why the stars seem to pulsate.

Decreasing deformation

There is not much that can be done against atmospheric turbulence. The solution is to find suitable places on the planet and high enough, where the lowest layer of the atmosphere is thinner, where therefore the turbulence will be minimal.

One example is the observatory of Paranal, which is located in the desert of Atacama in Chile . Here, the seeing , the deformation of the image due to the turbulence, is 0.66 seconds of arc , and in the night especially clear, you can even halved.

In the Dome C , in Antarctica, the seeing is still low, between 0.23 and 0.36 seconds of arc .

Dome, the perfect place for a telescope terrestrial

researchers at The University of British Columbia, however, believe they have found an even better place: the Dome , always in Antarctica.

scientists have planted their own equipment at -75°C for seven months, in the Kunlun Station, a research outpost of china), and measured a seeing of only 0.13 arc seconds .

“After a decade of indirect evidence and reasoning theorists, we finally have proof of direct observation of the extraordinary conditions of the Dome,” said astronomer Michael Ashley, one of the authors of the study. An optical telescope or the infrared to the soil here placed surclasserebbe the performance of its analogue in any other part of the world, argue experts, getting sharper images and being able to detect even weak signals .

However, there is a not negligible problem. On the Dome is a long, very cold (down to -90°C). The current technology could withstand a similar temperature for a long time? The researchers are optimistic: to overcome this obstacle would allow you to see the Space from the Ground more clearly, up to 12% more . And whereas telescopes on the ground to the cutting edge would still be the most affordable telescopes in space (like the Hubble or the James Webb Space Telescope , which cost so much and last for less) and are competitive from a scientific point of view, maybe it is worth it.

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