Checking Dimples on the Cosmic Golf Ball
|Aldo Apponi, project
scientist for the Kitt Peak 12-Meter Telescope, uses the telescope along
with other scientists to obtain high-resolution radio images of objects in
distance regions of our galaxy and the universe. David Harvey photo
Imagine what you could discover with a telescope the size of
planet Earth. UA radio astronomers no longer have to imagine — they’re part of a
grand experiment to link radio telescopes on several continents into a virtual
telescope capable of detecting things 3,000 times smaller than the Hubble Space
Telescope can see.
The linkage allows astronomers to view the universe at the shortest-ever (2
millimeter) radio wavelength.
“The resolution achieved by this telescope is the equivalent of sitting in New
York and being able to see the dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles,” says one
astronomer on the team.
The international collaboration involves two telescopes in Arizona — the
Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham and the Kitt Peak
12-Meter Telescope — and telescopes in Spain, Finland, and Chile.
The telescope has picked up radio signals from galaxies more than 3 billion
light years away. Plans are to direct the powerful new telescope at the core of
the Milky Way Galaxy to detect structures close to our galaxy’s suspected black
Originally Published in the
Arizona Alumnus Magazine Winter 2002