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Imagine being able to see the surface of an Earth-like planet orbiting another star, or watching a star get shredded by a black hole.

Such precise observations are currently impossible. But scientists are proposing ways to quantum mechanically link up optical telescopes around the world in order to view the cosmos at a mind-boggling level of detail.

The trick is to transport fragile photons between telescopes, so that the signals can be combined, or “interfered,” to create far sharper images. Researchers have known for years that this kind of interferometry would be possible with a futuristic network of teleportation devices called a quantum internet. But whereas the quantum internet is a far-off dream, a new proposal lays out a scheme for doing optical interferometry with quantum storage devices that are under development now.

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