Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) obtains most detailed image of a galaxy

Image of Quasar 3C 279
Source: European Southern Observatory

The image observed by astronomers with the highest definition ever achieved, was made possible by the connection of three different telescopes located in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona.

Connecting the telescope “APEX” (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) located near San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, “Array Submiliter” located in Hawaii, and the “Submiliter Telescope” located in Arizona, astronomers were able to obtain a precise image of the quasar 3C 279, which contains a supermassive black hole with a mass of about a billion times the Sun.

IFSA students visiting Tololo
Observatory in Elqui Valley

The connection of telescopes was performed through the technique known as ” Very Long Baseline Interferometry ” (VLBI), which allows multiple telescopes to merge and act as one, delivering images at extremely high resolutions and with great precision to observe space and its phenomena.

Observations with this level of resolution represent new advances in understanding black holes. The European Southern Obersevatory (ESO) plans to connect even more telescopes in the future, with which one could see the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, as well as the shade of black holes in nearby galaxies.

While students on the Chilean Universities Program in Santiago do not visit the APEX Observatory, they do have the opportunity to travel to La Serena and the Elqui Valley, home to many important astronomical observatories in Chile which they visit while on this program excursion. With around 300 clear days per year, it is an ideal place for astronomical observations of the southern skies.

Source: La Tercera