The good news: Scientists have found the absolute best place Earth for romantic stars!
Bad news: Literally next door to the South Pole.
The hotspot (or cold spot in this case) is called Dome A and is located on a plateau near the central Antarctica, approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above sea level. In a new study published July 29 in the journal nature, researchers found that conditions in Dome A are positively ideal for viewing in space with minimal interference from Earthly atmosphere,,
In particular, the stars above Dome A actually blink less than they do elsewhere in the world, the researchers found. This is due to a phenomenon called atmospheric turbulence. In general, because the wind blows on uneven terrain, such as mountains or valleys, it creates turbulent vortices in the atmosphere that can distort the appearance of light reaching the Earth from distant stars.
“At the time [starlight] hit the ground, it’s everywhere and you get these blurry images, “said study co-author Michael Ashley, an astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. said in a statement,,
In their new study, Ashley and colleagues confirmed that atmospheric turbulence is not a problem at Dome A. Therefore: Because the plateau is dead flat for hundreds of feet in each direction, slow local winds create very little turbulence in the air at low altitudes. where the telescope lens will probably sit. The team erected a small telescope on a platform 26 feet (8 meters) from the ground and was able to completely circumvent the turbulence when observing the stars in the middle of winter.
As brutal as they are, these Antarctic winters offer another advantage to stellar stars in Dome A. According to researchers, polar nights can last 24 hours or more during Antarctic winter, creating much longer windows to ripen than anywhere else. on the ground. In conclusion, the researchers write, Dome A will be the ideal place to create a new ground-based telescope for future stellar observations.
Of course, Antarctica is not the only place-A place for stars. Space telescopes such as NASA’s NASA space telescope have the luxury of floating high above the stormy atmosphere, allowing astronomers to capture some really breathtaking images of space. However, the ground observatory in House A will have several practical advantages over Hubble.
“Satellites are much more expensive – we are talking maybe factors from 10 to 100 times higher than the price [of ground-based telescopes]- Another advantage of Earth observations is that you can always add the latest technology to your telescope on Earth. So you’re done with the space lagging behind the technology on earth by 10 years or more. “
So while Dome A is probably not the most practical destination for your next night’s encounter, it may help astronomers keep their fixed date in space for years to come, although they may need to bring a space heater.
Originally published in Live Science.