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March 12 2013

Giant laser creates an artificial star to clear the sky

It looks like a Stormtrooper's snapshot of the Death Star's superlaser in action, but this is actually a photo of a new laser that's just completed testing at the Very Large Telescope in Chile.

The laser shoots 90 kilometres into the atmosphere, where it interacts with the 10-kilometre-thick layer of sodium atoms left around our planet by meteoroid impacts. The laser makes the sodium fluoresce, producing a bright point of light that acts as an artificial star.

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