Observing the universe through the eyes of a lobster
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Chinese researchers have created an x-ray telescope inspired by the unique structure of a lobster's eyes. The Lobster Eye Imager for Astronomy (LEIA) is designed to offer a wider field of view, enabling scientists to observe a greater area of the universe at any one time.
Traditional x-ray telescopes had a limited field of view, meaning that only a small fraction of the universe could be observed at any given time. However, lobsters have evolved unique eyes that allow them to detect movement even in the murkiest of waters, using square-shaped tubes that reflect light from different locations on their retina.
By using similar square-shaped tubes with mirrors inside, the Chinese researchers have created an x-ray telescope that can gather light from a wider area, providing scientists with more information about black holes, supernovae collisions, and exploding stars.
LEIA is already operational and has the potential to provide new insights into the workings of the universe. The researchers hope that their work will inspire further innovations in the field of x-ray astronomy, enabling us to learn even more about our cosmos.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who published their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy in 2020. The team used their LEIA telescope to observe a distant galaxy, capturing high-quality images that revealed the presence of a supermassive black hole at its center.
In addition to its potential scientific applications, the LEIA telescope could also have practical uses in fields such as security and medical imaging. The researchers believe that their lobster-inspired design could be adapted to create new types of x-ray imaging technology with a wide range of applications.
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