‘Magic’ telescope will explore black holes
Two eyes are better than one, especially when it comes to visualising dark matter and disproving certain tenets of the theory of relativity. So it was with some excitement that scientists announced that a second parabolic telescope will soon be hard at work trying to solve the mystery of black holes.
Magic II, due to be unveiled on the island of La Palma in the Canaries on April 25, has been developed by the University of Padua, Italy. It will feature the largest reflective surface in the world and be able to reach unprecedented distances.
Once operational, the telescope will begin working alongside its predecessor, Magic I. Using both telescopes together, scientists will be able to see high-energy gamma rays that were previously invisible.
The “Magic” (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) experiment will take place on top of an extinct volcano at an altitude of 2,200 meters, free from light pollution and atmospheric dust. Both telescopes have a mirror surface of 234 square metres and a diameter of 17 meters, but the newly built Magic II will improve the resolution and sensitivity of the system.
The data will be analysed by 150 physicists from all over the world, and provide better insight into the processes that generate energy within galaxies and stars, researchers say.
"By the end of the five-year-long project we should have a map of the universe," says Alessandro De Angelis, who leads the experiment for Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). "We’ll put together a picture of black holes that are as far as six billion light years away from our planet. We’ll be able to see what happens when they evolve."
Mosè Mariotti, of Padua University, said the telescope would be able to disprove the theory that the speed of light in a vacuum is always the same, and would allow scientists to “witness the annihilation of dark matter”.
He acknowledges that for the moment the studies have yielded few results, but says that he remains optimistic. “It’d be surprising not to find anything new from gazing at such a remote and wide region of the universe, around four to eight million light years away.”
We’ll keep our fingers crossed then.