Aug. 31, 2009
Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
University Relations, Science Writer
ATLANTA - Georgia State University is continuing to monitor the California Station fire which has neared the Mt. Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, where the university operates facilities.
Officials are posting situation updates about the fire at http://joy.chara.gsu.edu/CHARA/fire.php.
Georgia State operates the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) at Mt. Wilson, which runs the CHARA Array, a six-telescope optical/infrared interferometric array. It is among the most powerful facilities of its kind in the world for studying stars and stellar systems. Mt. Wilson is also home to astronomy projects of the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and the University of California-Berkeley.
The multi-million dollar array - which has a resolution capability 200 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope - became fully operational in 2005. Light from each of the six telescopes is transported through vacuum light pipes to a central laboratory, where a complex system of mirrors move under computer control to match the paths of each beam to an accuracy of better than one-thousandth of a millimeter.
Scientists using the array focus on the measurement of stellar diameters, shapes, surface temperatures, masses, distances and luminosities. The array has the most powerful capability in the world to resolve these details, and can see structures equivalent to the angular size of a nickel 10,000 miles away.
The first image made of a sun-like star - Altair - was produced in 2006 at the array in collaboration with the University of Michigan.
For more information about the CHARA Array, visit www.chara.gsu.edu/CHARA.