Giant telescope will keep an eye on planets in other solar systems
MIT astrophysicists and their colleagues are excited about the latest milestone toward developing a giant telescope that among other things will allow direct observations of planets orbiting stars in solar systems beyond ours.
On Dec. 13 the Carnegie Observatories of the Carnegie Institution signed an agreement with the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab to produce the first mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The telescope will have a diameter of about 25.4 meters or 83 feet--making it about as wide as an eight-story building is tall.
Slated for completion in 2016 at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the GMT will have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope enabling a variety of new projects and observations.
"At the very top of that list would be the direct observation of exo-planets around nearby stars and observation of objects yet younger (and therefore more distant) than the youngest objects observable today," said Paul Schechter, the William A. M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics, who leads the MIT group that is part of the eight-member consortium developing the GMT.
Other members are Carnegie Observatories, Harvard University, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University.
The new telescope will be composed of seven, 8.4-meter primary mirrors arranged in a floral pattern. It builds on the successful heritage of the two 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes, the first of which began science operations in early 2001. "The same individuals involved in the building of Magellan constitute the core of the GMT design group," Schechter said.
What role do ground-based telescopes play in the era of satellite telescopes like the Hubble? For one, said Schechter, "ground-based telescopes can be much bigger, which is important because a telescope’s light-gathering power is proportional to the square of its diameter. The Hubble is only 2.4 meters in diameter, and the next-generation space telescope, which ought to be finished at about the same time as the GMT, will be smaller than the present Magellan telescopes."
Detailed information about the design of the GMT and the science that it will perform is located on the web (http://www.gmto.org/).
Elizabeth Thomson | MIT News Office
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...