Night Side Rings
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The Knight in the Panther’s Skin
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
.. yep that’s what the resolution (the smallest thing you can make out) that the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope gets you! Now that’s just awesome. It’s also good enough to look at the super massive black hole in the centre of our Galaxy. Oh and lets not stop there (in the voice of some TV advert trying to sell you fitness products)… in the case of 3C 279, a distant quasar some 5 billion light years away, it gets a resolution of 1 light year! That’s good enough to properly resolve around the black hole!
To get this resolution a bunch of telescopes were all linked up using a method called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). Interferometry allows many telescopes to act like a single telescope but with the distance between them as the size of the telescope. This allows for such amazing resolutions to be achieved.
You can read more over on the ESO webpages.