Stella Shape Measurement by a Gravitational Lens

Lord Raleigh, a professor of physics at Cambridge University and a Nobel prize winner one hundred years ago, showed that the performance of any optical instrument is limited because of the wave nature of light. Raleigh derived an expression for the resolution of a telescope which predicts that even the closest stars cannot be sharply resolved with the best telescopes available today, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Observations confirm this. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to us, is merely a hazy blob when photographed by the Hubble.

For distant stars in the Milky Way, the situation is even worse. Astronomers have had to rely on indirect methods to deduce indirectly the properties of these. And as for smaller objects, such as planets like the one we live on orbiting these stars, they are completely undetectable using conventional telescopes. So:

  1. Following Einstein, the MOA group uses stars as naturally occurring lenses, and achieve results with greater precision than is possible using the best man-made telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.
  2. They have made significant progress towards answering humankind's question "is there life out there?" by demonstrating the ability to detect Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars in the Milky Way.
  3. They use the web as an absolutely essential tool in their research, by coordinating observations at observatories around the globe that would otherwise be impossible.
  4. They utilise significant computer power, including a cluster computer with 400 teaching PCs, during nights and weekends.
  5. They bring many nations together through their scientific work, including Japan, USA, UK, South Africa, Spain, Israel, France, Germany, Australia, Korea and NZ. The ground breaking work in this project and the extensive collaboration make this a totally unique offering from New Zealand.
Category: e-Science
Stella Shape Measurement by a Gravitational Lens
physics.auckland.ac.nz/moa/


e-Science
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Stellar Shape Presentation

Stellar Shape Measurement by a Gravitational Lens

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