Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mirror Casting Event for the Giant Magellan Telescope

10.01.2012
On Jan. 14, the second 8.4-meter (27.6 ft) diameter mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope, or GMT, will be cast inside a rotating furnace at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab underneath the campus football stadium. The mirror lab will host a special event to highlight this milestone in the creation of the optics for the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Members of the media are invited to visit the mirror lab on Jan. 14 between 9-11 a.m. MST to see the liquid glass as it is spun cast in a rotating oven at a temperature of 1170 degrees C (2140 F). This casting marks another major step in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope. There will be opportunities to interview leading scientists and engineers involved in the project.

The GMT features an innovative design utilizing seven mirrors, each 8.4 meters in diameter, arranged as segments of a single mirror 24.5 meters

(80 feet) in diameter, to bring starlight to a common focus via a set of adaptive secondary mirrors configured in a similar seven-fold pattern.

"In this design the outer six mirrors are off-axis paraboloids and represent the greatest optics challenge ever undertaken in astronomical optics by a large factor," said Roger Angel, director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, or SOML.

The GMT will allow astronomers to answer some of the most pressing questions about the cosmos including the detection, imaging and characterization of planets orbiting other stars, the nature of dark matter and dark energy, the physics of black holes, and how stars and galaxies evolved during the earliest phases of the universe.

"The GMT will allow astronomers to observe for the first time the first stars formed after the Big Bang," said Steve Finkelstein, Hubble Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin. "I cannot wait to make these observations."

"Astronomical discovery has always been paced by the power of available telescopes and imaging technology," said Peter Strittmatter, director of Steward Observatory. "The GMT allows another major step forward in both sensitivity and image sharpness. In fact the GMT will be able to acquire images 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope and will provide a powerful complement not only to NASA's 6.5-meter James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, but also to the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, both located in the southern hemisphere."

Patrick McCarthy, GMT project director, added, "This second GMT casting is going forward now because the primary optics are on the critical path for the project, and because the polishing of the first off-axis 8.4-meter GMT mirror is very close to completion, with an optical surface accuracy within about 25 nanometers, or about one-thousandth the thickness of a human hair."

Like other mirrors produced by the SOML, the GMT mirrors are designed to be spun cast, thereby achieving the basic front surface in the shape of a paraboloid. A paraboloid is the shape taken on by water in a bucket when the bucket is spun around its axis; the water rises up the walls of the bucket while a depression forms in the center.

Some 21 tons of borosilicate glass, made by the Ohara Corporation, flow into a pre-assembled mold to create a lightweight honeycomb glass structure that is very stiff and quickly adjusts to changes in nighttime air temperature, each resulting in sharper images. The mirror lab has already produced the world's four largest astronomical mirrors, each 8.4 meters in diameter. Two are in operation in the Large Binocular Telescope, or LBT - currently the largest telescope in the world; one is for the LSST, and the fourth is the first off-axis mirror for GMT. The UA's Mirror Lab has also produced five 6.5-meter mirrors, two of which are in the twin Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

"The novel technology developed at the mirror lab is creating a whole new generation of large telescopes with unsurpassed image sharpness and light collecting power," said Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Observatories and chair of the GMTO Board. "The SOML mirrors in the twin Magellan Telescopes at our Las Campanas Observatory site are performing superbly and led to our adoption of this technology for the GMT."

The GMT is set to begin science operations in 2020 at the Las Campanas Observatory, exploiting the clear dark skies of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

"With funding commitments in hand for close to half of the $700 million required to complete the project, with one mirror essentially finished and the second about to be cast, and with the planned groundbreaking at Las Campanas in February of this year, the project is on track to meet this schedule goal," said Matthew Colless, Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

"The giant mirrors being spun cast for the GMT at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab are like the sails of the great ships of exploration ca. 1500, except here the discoveries are not lands across the ocean, but rather the nature of whole new worlds and island universes, spanning all of space and time," said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science, University of Arizona. "We are proud to participate in such an exciting international scientific project as the GMT."

The event is supported by the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory and College of Science and by the GMTO Corp., a nonprofit entity with project offices based in Pasadena, Calif. The GMTO manages the GMT Project on behalf of its international partners, namely Astronomy Australia Ltd., the Australian National University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin.

CONTACTS:

Roger Angel, director, SOML (rangel@as.arizona.edu; 520-621-6541)

Patrick McCarthy, director, GMTO (pmccarthy@gmto.org; 626-304-0222)

Wendy Freedman, chair, Board of Directors, GMTO
(wendy@obs.carnegiescience.edu; 626-304-0204)
Peter Strittmatter, director, Steward Observatory (pstrittmatter@email.arizona.edu; 520-621-6524)

Peter Wehinger, staff astronomer and director of development, Steward Observatory (wehinger@email.arizona.edu; 520-621-7662)

Cathi Duncan, coordinator (cduncan@as.arizona.edu; 520-626-8792)

LINKS:

For more information about the GMT, see www.gmto.org.

For images, see http://www.gmto.org/forpress.html.

The University of Arizona Steward Observatory Mirror Lab:
http://mirrorlab.as.arizona.edu

Daniel Stolte | University of Arizona
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>