NJIT physicists expect new super lens to reveal first light by early 2006

"This is an exciting time in all fields of astronomy because advances in technology enable us to build instruments that would have been only dreams a few years ago," said lead researcher Philip Goode, PhD, distinguished professor of physics at NJIT and director of Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), California, where the telescope will be installed. NJIT has operated the facility since 1997.

Led by Goode, a team of solar physicists from the University of Hawaii and Korea are collaborating with NJIT on the project. (Editors: For telescope details visit http://www.bbso.njit.edu/; call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436, to interview Goode in California or New Jersey.)

The NJIT team is replacing BBSO's existing 65-cm vacuum aperture telescope with a modern off-axis, open air, 1.6 meter clear aperture instrument. The new telescope uses visible and infrared light rays to measure simultaneously the Sun's magnetic field at different altitudes in the solar atmosphere to study the field's evolution.

What will be most unusual about the new telescope will be its ability to reconstruct and sharpen in real time the blurry images of the sun that telescopes now provide. "Sharpening these images will be a remarkable achievement because now no observatory does this and people need this information," said Goode. "After all, if you want to forecast space weather, you have to have sharp images now. It does no one any good to have sharp images two days after the solar event occurred." People working with satellites and power utilities, in telecommunications and for the military need this information."

This solar telescope is the centerpiece of the nation's multi-agency space weather program, to better understand the interaction between magnetic fields and the flows of materials on the sun's surface. The new telescope will also allow researchers to study the dynamics of the sun's chromosphere.

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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