Giant telescope discovered the smallest cosmic “laser”

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RUSSIA (VOP TODAY NEWS) – Scientists from Russia have opened the smallest cosmic microwave laser, observing star crests in the constellation Cepheus with the help of the Russian ground-space telescope RadioAstron, an article published in the Astrophysical Journal says, as cited by RIA news agency.

“We found the smallest structure ever seen in galactic masers, which again shows the capabilities of our radio-interferometer – we were able to distinguish between objects the size of the solar disk at a distance of 2,200 light-years, whose angular dimensions are 3,000 times smaller than could distinguish the famous “Hubble” – says Alexei Alakoz from the Astro Space Center of the FIAN.

Almost immediately after the creation of the first masers in the middle of the last century by Soviet and American physicists, astronomers discovered their natural counterparts in far-away space.

Their “heart”, as a rule, are relatively modest by cosmic standards – clouds of molecular gas, the atmosphere of stars or comets, absorbing the energy of some nearby radiation source and re-emitting it in the form of beams of coherent microwave radiation.

Despite its “modesty”, all known sources of maser radiation have impressive dimensions by human standards – they stretch for hundreds of thousands of astronomical units, medium distances between the Sun and Earth, or even dozens of light years.

Alakoz and his colleagues discovered the smallest source of maser radiation in space, observing large cosmic nurseries located in the constellation Cepheus, about 2.2 thousand light-years from the Earth.

In this accumulation of gas and dust, as shown by previous observations, several dozen stars have already been born, whose radiation warms up and interacts with the gas surrounding them. This creates ideal conditions for the formation of new space masers and observations of how their light passes through such nebulae.

As shown by observations of Russian astronomers, such structures can have extremely tiny dimensions, comparable in size with the disk of the Sun. This makes them invisible for all single radio telescopes, but not for Radio Astron, the largest observatory in the world from the Guinness Book of Records, which combines the power of several ground dishes and the orbital observatory Spectrum-R.

In total, astronomers managed to find three similar “micromazers” located in the vicinity of two newborn stars, HW2 and HWDiii. These sources of radiation, scientists believe, arose as a result of the collision of hot gas streams ejected by luminaries, with a protoplanetary disc or other gas-dust structures.

Similar “space accidents” shook these clouds of hydrogen, forcing them to shrink in a special way and form almost point sources of maser radiation, for the discovery of which, scientists conclude, needed the largest telescope ever created by mankind.