Pearls in the sky and on the ground (photo)

The presented photo, taken in the Chilean Atacama desert, demonstrates two types of “pearls” at once: a dazzling scattering of stars in the sky, as well as a family of the latest BlackGEM telescopes.

BlackGEM telescopes on the background of the starry sky. Source: Zdeněk Bardon ( )/ESO

The BlackGEM complex will be engaged in the search for one of the most powerful and large-scale events in the universe — mergers of neutron stars and black holes. Such cataclysms produce “ripples” in the space-time continuum, known as “gravitational waves”. Therefore, the complex will work in conjunction with the gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo.

After the detectors record gravitational waves, BlackGEM telescopes will scan the sky in search of optical radiation generated by these events. Other instruments, such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope, will in turn examine the objects detected by BlackGEM. This will allow astronomers to better understand the nature of the most high-energy and most elusive phenomena in our universe.

In total, the BlackGEM complex will consist of 15 telescopes designed for wide-angle sky surveys. In the picture you can see three of them. Two have already been built, the third (the right part of the frame) was not finished at the time of shooting. 

In the sky above the BlackGEM towers, a strip of the Milky Way consisting of many stars stretches, also containing clouds of dark dust and brightly glowing gas. The reflection of ruby-red and emerald-green shades is the glow of the night sky, caused mainly by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere.

According to

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