Saturday, March 22, 2014

ESO MUSE: Creates 3D Views of the Universe - Video

A new telescope tool for peering into the cosmos and creating three-dimensional views of the universe has passed its first major test at the ESO observatory in Chile's Atacama desert.

After a decade of design and development, the tool, called the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), successfully captured its first images of deep space to create 3D views of the early universe.

Installed on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, MUSE can both study and image the depths of space.

"It has taken a lot of work by many people over many years," principle investigator Roland Bacon of the Lyon Astrophysics Research Center (CRAL) in France said in a statement.

"This seven-ton collection of optics, mechanics, and electronics is now a fantastic time machine for probing the early universe."

This colour composite of the unusual polar ring galaxy NGC 4650A was created from data from the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The MUSE instrument, which went online in March 2014, splits the light from each part of the galaxy into component colors to show the chemical and physical properties of each point.

Credit: ESO/MUSE consortium/R. Bacon

MUSE uses 24 spectrographs to split light into its component colours (spectra) to assemble images and spectra of different regions of the sky.

Studies of these spectra can provide insight to astronomers about the composition and movements of various objects.

MUSE also creates a 3D image of objects from the light waves it receives. Known as Integral Field Spectroscopy (IFS), the technique allows astronomers to study the properties of different regions of an object at the same time.

Applying the technique to galaxies, for instance, can reveal not only their chemical composition but also details about their rotation.

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