Researchers in Germany have found that climate change is impairing the performance of telescopes around the world. This can lead to the fact that astronomers will not be able to observe objects in the same detail as now.
The scientists explained that modern telescopes are incredibly powerful and engineers continue to improve them. For example, devices such as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) have made it possible to observe space in great detail. However, a new study by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany notes that climate change could limit the capacity of astronomical observatories.
Much of the observational power of modern astronomical observatories is the result of advances in technology, especially the development of segmented mirrors and adaptive optics. Moreover, their location is chosen in such a way as to provide the best environmental conditions for technology.
Temperature is critical for most high-power telescopes. The primary mirrors are housed within giant domes that open at dusk to begin observation. The temperature inside the dome is controlled – it corresponds to the temperature at the time of observation.
The current temperature control system on telescopes cannot rise above 16 degrees Celsius. But over the past decades, the planet’s temperature has increased, and now there are more and more cases of temperatures exceeding the limits of the temperature control system. The problem is that the inner dome cannot equalize the temperature outside the dome and inside when the ambient temperature exceeds 16 degrees.
Turbulence arises when the temperature difference between the primary mirror and the surface temperature inside the dome occurs. Astronomers call this a “dome view.” This is a serious problem as it degrades the image quality of telescopes. It can impair the visibility of objects that are tens, hundreds, even thousands of light-years away.