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Last Updated: Monday April 20 2009 07:19 GMT

Update will improve UK telescopes

The Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank

Scientists are about to get a much clearer picture of the universe after a big change to seven UK telescopes.

They've been linked together for years, but now the technology that moves the data they collect around has been given a hi-tech update.

Scientists will be able to study parts of space they've never seen before, and in much more detail too.

One expert said: "We'll be able to do in one day what would have previously taken us three years to do."

The seven telescopes all pull in radio waves from space and then transfer the information they collect to scientists at a place called Jodrell Bank.

The telescopes are spread across 200 kilometres and together are called the e-Merlin array.

Optical fibres
Optical fibres carry the space data

In the past that data was moved using microwaves, but there was so much information that a lot of it was lost.

Big questions answered

Now those microwave links have been swapped for something called optical fibre cables and they can carry much, much more information.

Professor Simon Garrington explained that the changes may help scientists answer important questions about the universe.

He added: "These questions cover the whole range of astronomy, from the formation of Earth-like planets to the physics that governs how stars of different types are formed."