The 14-year-old Subaru Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea has gotten the equivalent of a new pair of spectacles. And the first celestial object it looked at, producing a picture released today, is the Andromeda galaxy. Subaru’s 8.2-meter-mirror makes it one of the world’s largest optical telescopes. Its new Hyper Suprime-Cam digital camera has a field of view seven times larger than its previous camera, allowing it to capture the entire Andromeda galaxy in a single shot instead of the multiple exposures previously required. The new camera also has 870 million pixels, more than 10 times the number of its predecessor, ensuring high-resolution images. These capabilities will be put to use surveying hundreds of galaxies to determine their distance, brightness, motion, and chemical composition. And that, researchers say, should lead to an understanding of the evolutionary history and fate of the expanding universe.
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