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urbanguy

State shines in astronomy

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State shines in astronomy

The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility is on Mauna Kea. The top of Haleakala visible in the background, beyond the clouds. Hawai'i's tall mountains have helped foster an industry worth 600 jobs and $150 million a year.

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From the highest peaks on Hawai'i and Maui, astronomers seek out the vast mysteries of space.

They pinpoint asteroids that might threaten our planet, scan the fringes of the sun for clues to the origins of its magnetic storms, try to probe black holes and peer back in space-time to learn about how our universe was formed.

"We have looked back 12.8 million light years and seen galaxies quite a bit more mature than we expected. We've used adaptive optics to look into the center of our galaxy, where we seem to have a very nice specimen of a black hole," said Peter Michaud, of the Gemini Northern Telescope, one of the newest and biggest on Mauna Kea.

The Islands can thank tall mountains and a stable atmospheric inversion layer for an industry worth 600 jobs and $150 million a year

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