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First space images captured by balloon-borne telescope


Astronomers have successfully launched a balloon-borne telescope that has begun capturing images of the universe on its first flight above the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Super Pressure Balloon-Borne Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) was flown to the edge of space by a helium-filled NASA scientific balloon the size of a football stadium.

SuperBIT has already taken its first images on this flight, showing the “Tarantula Nebula” – a bright cluster of gas and dust in a galaxy neighbourhood near our Milky Way – and the collision between the two galaxies NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, known as “the Antennae.”

SuperBIT is a collaboration between the University of Toronto, Princeton University, Durham University and NASA.

“A dedicated team of students developing one of the world’s great telescopes – it’s inspiring.” says Barth Netterfield, a professor in U of T's department of physics and the David A. Dunlap department of astronomy and astrophysics in the Faculty of Arts & Science, and an associate at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“After a decade of tremendous effort, we are getting these exquisite images with a wide range of science goals, which will help us to better understand the universe.”

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