Construction Begins On Extremely Large Telescope

Posted: May 28 2017, 1:05pm CDT | by , Updated: May 28 2017, 5:09pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Construction Begins on Extremely Large Telescope
Artist's illustration of Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: ESO

The world's largest optical/infrared telescope will be up and running in 2024

Europe has started construction on Extremely Large Telescope in Chile on Friday. With 39 meter-wide main mirror, it will be the largest optical and near-infrared telescope in the world. To put it into perspective, large optical telescopes today are only about 10 meters wide.

Extremely Large Telescope or ELT will gather 100 million times more light than the human eye and 13 times more light than any other optical telescopes existing today. The image taken by ELT will be 16 times sharper than those from Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope is intended to address some of the most intriguing questions about our universe. Once completed, it will allow astronomers to look further back into the history of universe when first stars and galaxies were formed.

“With the symbolic start of this construction work, we are building more than a telescope here: it is one of the greatest expressions of scientific and technological capabilities and of the extraordinary potential of international cooperation.” President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria said in the ceremony marking the first stone of European Space Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope.

The European Extremely Large Telescope will be housed in an 80-meter-tall dome – an area comparable to football pitch. Construction of dome and telescope’s main structure is now being started on a 3,000 meter-high mountain located in the middle of the Chile’s Atacama desert. Chilean desert is already hosting 8 telescopes including the Very Large Telescope and ALMA, radio telescopes while ELT is expected to begin operation in 2024.

“This is a milestone in ESO's history, the ELT will be the most powerful and ambitious telescope of its kind.” Patrick Roche, President of the European Space Observatory Council said.

The project involves 15 European countries as well as Chile and Brazil. The project was initiated in 2012 while the constructing was approved in December 2014. ESO claims it will be the “World’s biggest eye” ever pointed towards the sky.

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