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Sun orbital scanner

  1. Aug 14, 2012 #1
    If we had an array of detectors in an orbit around the sun could we magnify the image of distant star systems. Would this help to detect planets using this magnification?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2012 #2


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    What magnification mechanism are you referring to? Can you please describe in more detail your proposal? Maybe a sketch or diagram of the location of the array of detectors?
  4. Aug 14, 2012 #3
    I am thinking of the light cones that we receive at those distances. That limits the number of photons we can detect from a star. We basically have tunnel vision. If the detectors were in a geostationary orbit around the sun, all pointed at the same star system we may be able to distinguish features by analysing the differences in each image. In a similar way that early 3D cinema was able to give the illusion of real life objects. The more images we get the more detail we may be able to pick out.
  5. Aug 14, 2012 #4
    I've never seen "geostationary" used the way I think you're using it here. "Co-orbiting", perhaps?
  6. Aug 14, 2012 #5


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    hubble bubble, I think you are referring to using multiple telescopes as sensors in an array. It might be possible in future to increase the dimensions of the array to solar system scale, but it requires optical linkage, which is not simple. They are linked by optical interferometry so as to effectively increase their resolution. See this Wiki article, including the "drawback" when using the technique. Then see an article from the VLT where this has been done with great success.

    An astronomical interferometer is an array of telescopes or mirror segments acting together to probe structures with higher resolution by means of interferometry. The benefit of the interferometer is that the angular resolution of the instrument is nearly that of a telescope with the same aperture as a single large instrument encompassing all of the individual photon-collecting sub-components. The drawback is that it does not collect as many photons as a large instrument of that size. Thus it is mainly useful for fine resolution of the more luminous astronomical objects, such as close binary stars.

    Astronomers have created the world's largest virtual optical telescope, linking four telescopes in Chile so that they operate as a single device.
    The telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory form a virtual mirror of 130m (424ft) in diameter.
  7. Aug 20, 2012 #6
    I was looking at the structure of the eye with the rod and cone arrangement when thinking of this. The rods act in a different way to the cones in the retina. Thanks for those links. I will have a look when I get a moment.
  8. Aug 20, 2012 #7


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    The rods and cones of your eye are analogous to pixels of a CCD sensor that is used in most imaging devices. The lens, cornea, and iris of your eye work in conjunction as an optical system that is analogous to a telescope of camera lens. Put simply, your eye is a telescope.

    And while rods are indeed different from cones, this particular fact is not related to telescopes at all, it is merely a result of us needing to see fine detail and color in bright light while also needing to be able to see in low light levels where fine detail isn't as necessary since we evolved to be asleep for most of the night.
  9. Aug 21, 2012 #8
    One other google term is "hypertelescope"

    Something else that you can google for are the terms "diffraction". The basic limits on resolution for telescopes have to do with the fact that light is a wave. It's a pretty simple calculation to figure out what a telescope can and can't see.
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