Durham University in the north of
England, a leading research centre in adaptive optics, is aiming to
improve the quality of astronomical imaging. Turbulence in the
earth's atmosphere distorts the light beams entering astronomical
telescopes, resulting in what we know as the twinkling of the
Using adaptive optics to correct these distortions, scientists
are now able to obtain much sharper images from the far reaches of
This research could also hold the key to the further development
of free space communications. By shining a laser between two
points, data can be transmitted along the beam – providing
scientists can overcome the problems of atmospheric distortion.
Such technology would have a huge impact on telecommunications.
At the same time the University is looking to the future,
investing in the upcoming generations of scientists. The University
is host to the region's brand-new Faulkes Telescope Centre,
offering school pupils access to real time robotic telescopes in
Hawaii and Australia.
In shaping the astronomical images of today, scientists are
hoping to inspire the astronomers of tomorrow.