Astronomy: New Dimensions for the Stars

Ever since astronomers started staring through their telescopes, they have been trying to measure the size of the stars. It is an almost impossible job.

Stars are so far away that even in the biggest telescopes they never show up as anything more than mere points of light. The only direct means of measuring them is with an interferometer: an instrument that collects the light from a star in two different mirrors a short distance apart, then feeds the two beams into the same telescope. Despite the star's enormous distance, light from each of its edges must travel a slightly...

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