Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Patch-up telescope sees first detail of star beyond galaxy

Garching, Germany - Scientists in Germany who devised a way to hook up two powerful telescopes in stereo have observed for the first time the details of a star outside our Milky Way galaxy, they said Tuesday.

They trained the two telescopes on a red supergiant named WOH G64 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighbouring galaxy. WOH is about 2,000 times larger than the sun and is 163,000 light years away.

Keiichi Ohnaka of the Max Planck Radio-Astronomy Institute in Bonn Germany led the research, which is described in a new science article.

He and his team worked with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, a suburb of Munich, remotely using the ESO telescope complex, which is built on a desert mountain in Chile.

They used two 8-metre-reflector scopes to create a virtual 60- metre telescope.

The observations show the ageing star blowing much of its substance into space. It has lost 40 per cent of its original mass already, developing a shroud of dust around it. An explosion as a supernova is inevitable.

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