This three year study, with a budget of 57 million euro, will prepare the way for construction of the world’s largest optical/infrared telescope that will revolutionise ground-based astronomy. Astronomers from the UK have played crucial roles in reaching this decision.
The E-ELT will be more than hundred times more sensitive than the present-day largest optical telescopes, such as the 10-m Keck telescopes or the 8.2-m VLT telescopes and will answer some of the biggest questions about the Universe in which we live.
Professor Gerry Gilmore, University of Cambridge anticipates tremendous new science being made possible saying “The E-ELT is critical to allow the next big advance in understanding our mysterious Universe. We will search for planets similar to the Earth around other stars, discover the nature of matter by mapping the distribution and properties of the dark matter, which is the matter of which Nature is made, not the rather unimportant amount of stuff of which we are made, and investigate the future of the Universe - is time infinite? - by examining the Dark energy which seems to control the fate of space-time.”
The present concept, estimated to cost around 800 million euro, features as a baseline a 42-m diameter segmented mirror telescope housed in an 80-m diameter rotating dome. It incorporates a large internal mirror able to distort its own shape a thousand times per second. This ‘Adaptive Optics’ system will help to provide robust telescope operation even in case of significant wind turbulence and will largely overcome the fuzziness of stellar images due to atmospheric turbulence.
Professor Roger Davies, University of Oxford chairs ESO’s ELT Standing Review Committee and serves on PPARC’s Council. He said "The telescope design incorporates the crucial image sharpening technology in an innovative way that will give the 42m the full theoretical capability an instrument of that size can achieve. It will provide an unprecedented clear view of the distant universe enabling us to probe the origins of planets, stars and galaxies"
“The decision by the ESO Council to go ahead with the design study for a European Extremely Large Telescope is a very exciting one for European astronomy,” said Professor Richard Wade, President of the ESO Council and Deputy CEO of the UK’s science funding agency, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.
“At the end of the three year Final Design Study, we will know exactly how everything is going to be built including a detailed costing,” said Catherine Cesarsky, ESO’s Director General. “We then hope to start construction and have it ready by 2017, when we can install instruments and use it!”
Dr Isobel Hook of Oxford University led the team developing the science case for an E-ELT. “There are a lot of big questions in astronomy that we can’t answer with the current generation of telescopes. 42 may not quite be the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, but it will tell us a great deal more than we know now.”
For the past year, ESO has been working together with European astronomers to define the new giant telescope needed by the end of the next decade. This fast pace has also been possible thanks to early conceptual studies (such as the ESO OWL and the EURO-50 studies), complemented by a large mobilisation of European Institutes and high-tech Industries to develop critical enabling technologies in the framework of the so-called ELT Design Study, with ESO and the European Commission as the main funders, as well as with national contributions.
Professor Gerry Gilmore of the University of Cambridge chaired the design study leading up to this decision “Constructing an E-ELT is extremely challenging – as you scale up a telescope the technical difficulties become much more significant. Scientists and industry will both have crucial parts to play in ensuring that the E-ELT is viable and the UK community will be looking to take leading roles in design and construction of the telescope and its instruments as well as in the eventual scientific work.”
The primary 42-m diameter mirror is composed of 906 hexagonal segments, each 1.45 m in size, while the secondary mirror is as large as 6 m in diameter. In order to overcome the fuzziness of stellar images due to atmospheric turbulence the telescope needs to incorporate adaptive mirrors into its optics. A tertiary mirror, 4.2 m in diameter, relays the light to the adaptive optics system, composed of two mirrors: a 2.5-m mirror supported by 5000 or more actuators able to distort its own shape a thousand times per second, and one 2.7 m in diameter that allows for the final image corrections. This five mirror approach results in an exceptional image quality, with no significant aberrations in the field of view.
The site of the E-ELT is not yet fixed as studies are still undergoing with a plan to make a decision by 2008.
“The E-ELT will provide European astronomers with access to a facility that will allow them to do very exciting research projects including looking for Earth-like planets around other stars, a real quest for astronomers,” said Richard Wade.
“This is really the beginning of a new era for optical and infrared astronomy,” said Catherine Cesarsky.
Extremely Large Telescopes are considered world-wide as one of the highest priorities in ground-based astronomy. They will vastly advance astrophysical knowledge allowing detailed studies of, among others, planets around other stars, the first objects in the Universe, super-massive Black Holes, and the nature and distribution of the Dark Matter and Dark Energy which dominate the Universe. The European Extremely Large Telescope project will maintain and reinforce Europe’s position at the forefront of astrophysical research, gained in large part at the turn of the Century through the ESO Very Large Telescope facility.
Julia Maddock | alfa
Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences