Chinese Scientists Imitate Lobster Eye to Observe the Universe

Chinese Scientists Imitate Lobster Eyes To Observe The Universe
Chinese Scientists Imitate Lobster Eye to Observe the Universe

Scientists observing the distant universe are sometimes inspired by various creatures on Earth. The lobster eye telescope developed and launched by Chinese scientists is its latest example.

The National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) recently revealed the world's first set of wide-area X-ray maps of the sky captured by the lobster eye telescope, or Lobster Eye Imager for Astronomy (LEIA).

Launched into space in late July, LEIA is a wide-field X-ray imaging telescope that, according to the NAOC, is the first of its kind in the world. With the "lobster eye", people are expected to be able to efficiently observe mysterious transient events in the universe.

The most special feature of LEIA is that it has 36 microporous lobster eye glasses and 4 large array CMOS sensors, all developed by China. Biologists discovered early on that the lobster's eye is different from that of other animals. Lobster eyes consist of many small square tubes pointing to the same spherical center. This structure allows light from all directions to reflect into the tubes and converge on the retina, which gives the lobster a wide field of view.

Tried for the first time in the USA

In 1979, an American scientist proposed simulating the lobster eye to create a telescope for detecting X-rays in space. However, this idea was not realized for a long time until micromachining technology had evolved enough to make it possible. The researchers then developed lobster eye glasses that are covered with tiny square holes one hair thick.

NAOC's X-ray Imaging Laboratory began research and development on lobster eye X-ray imaging technology in 2010 and has finally made a breakthrough. The newly launched LEIA not only features the highly anticipated lobster eye glasses, but also pioneers the installation of CMOS sensors capable of processing at high spectral resolutions.

“This is the first time we have implemented the application of CMOS sensors to X-ray astronomical observations in space,” said NAOC officer Ling Zhixing. "This is a significant innovation in X-ray astronomy detection technology."

Provides wide-angle view

Ling, who is responsible for the LEIA project, said the lobster eye telescope's biggest advantage is its wide-angle view. According to Ling, previous X-ray telescopes have a field of view roughly the size of the Moon when viewed from Earth, while this lobster eye telescope can cover a celestial region about 1.000 Moon-sized.

“Twelve such telescopes will be installed on the future Einstein Probe satellite, and their field of view could be as large as about 10 Moons,” Ling says. As Ling points out, the newly launched LEIA is an experimental module for the Einstein Probe satellite, which is expected to launch in late 2023. A total of 12 modules will then be installed on the new satellite.

The program attracted great attention around the world, with the participation of the European Space Agency and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. "This technology will revolutionize X-ray sky monitoring and demonstrates the powerful science potential of the test module Einstein Probe mission," said Paul O'Brien, Head of Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.

“After more than ten years of hard work, we have finally succeeded in obtaining the observation results of the lobster eye telescope, and we are all very proud that such advanced equipment can contribute to the astronomical research of the world,” said Zhang Chen. Assistant Principal Investigator of the Einstein Probe program. According to Zhang, the Einstein Probe will conduct systematic surveys of the sky to track high-energy transient objects in the universe. The mission is expected to discover hidden black holes and map the distribution of black holes in the universe, helping us study their formation and evolution.

The Einstein Probe will also be used to look for and pinpoint X-ray signals from gravitational wave events. It will also be used to observe neutron stars, white dwarfs, supernovas, early cosmic gamma bursts and other objects and phenomena.

Günceleme: 18/10/2022 14:23

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