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Old October 22 2012, 08:59 PM   #14
Location: Kentucky
Re: Alpha Centauri Bb: For Real

Here's a bizarre point to ponder, assuming a universe where we can build enormous telescopes (many, many miles in diameter) but where interstellar journey's remain problematic.

In theory the surface of a neutron star is smooth almost to the atomic level, due to the intense gravity. A surface that smooth is often a mirror. If there are some neutron stars whose surface atoms are still normal enough for conventional electron shells, the star would be a spherical mirror like the ones you see at the corners of supermarkets and fork truck areas, where you can look at the mirror and see in all directions.

If we had a big enough telescope that could see one of these neutron stars located hundreds or thousands of light-years away, you'd have a way to reconstruct the image seen from that neutron star and gain a huge baseline for parallax measurements. If the neutron star was above the galactic plane, perhaps near a globular cluster, you could get an image of our own galaxy taken from outside it.

But the telescope to capture such an image would, indeed, be enormous! Quite a few "if's" in there, but it is at least an unusual thought.
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