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.
(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.
Roger Angel, director, SOML (firstname.lastname@example.org; 520-621-6541)
Patrick McCarthy, director, GMTO (email@example.com; 626-304-0222)Wendy Freedman, chair, Board of Directors, GMTO
Peter Wehinger, staff astronomer and director of development, Steward Observatory (firstname.lastname@example.org; 520-621-7662)
Cathi Duncan, coordinator (email@example.com; 520-626-8792)
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:
Daniel Stolte | University of Arizona
UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences