The beginning of the construction of the largest optical telescope in the world

A promise to open the door to new astronomical research. Mountain Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, northwestern China, as well as the Atacama desert, located in Chile, the climate in these areas will be built immediately after several installations. vast expanses of space, but also consider.

One of such facilities will be the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) of the European Southern Observatory – the largest optical telescope of the new generation, equipped with a complex composite mirror with a diameter of 39 meters.

The main phase of the construction of the ELT began in May 2017, after several years of disputes and discussions on this topic. The object will be released in 2024. The total cost of the project is estimated at 1.12 billion dollars. In 2018, the cost of the telescope is 1.23 billion dollars. According to the latest forecasts, by 2024 the cost of the entire project should be about 1.47 billion dollars (with a inflation rate of 3%).

The construction of such a system is necessary in a higher region, where the effectiveness of observers will not depend on changes in the atmosphere and light pollution. The construction site must have an ideal flat surface. In search of years, the European Southern Observatory in this place and eventually decided to create their own – on top of Mount Armasones in Chile. As seen in the photos below, the builders have already laid the foundation for the future telescope.



The capabilities of the ELT will be in its main mirror, which will be constructed from 798 hexagonal parts, each with a diameter of 1.4 meters. A huge 39-meter mirror will be assembled from these pieces, which will receive data with the highest level of quality that none of the existing telescopes are capable of.


For example, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) – currently the largest and most technologically advanced optical telescope – is a design of four auxiliary 1.8-meter optical telescopes and four separate 8.2-meter telescopes, connecting in one system. The angular resolution of the VLT was equivalent to a telescope with a solid mirror up to 200 meters. The viewing area will be a hundred times larger, it will be able to observe immediately a huge number of light sources, also noting objects with a significantly lower level of brightness, which current telescopes are not capable of observing.

The resulting images will not need serious processing because the ELT diaphragm will be inseparable. According to the engineers, the ELT will be 200 times more efficient than the Hubble, making it the most powerful telescope operating in the infrared and optical ranges.

Project developers note that due to adaptive optics
and ELT will be able to conduct a direct observation of exoplanets located in the orbits of distant stars, which is currently very rare among current telescopes.


Due to the fact that the telescope will actually be the most powerful in its class and will be able to carry out observations on the partial for stony exoplanets, then one of its tasks will be to study the worlds of the atmosphere.
And this is not all of its potential opportunities. For example, with the help of this telescope, scientists will be able to directly measure the rate of expansion of the Universe, find out the role of dark energy in the evolution of space. There is an opportunity to more accurately study the past of space, astronomers will be able to create more accurate models of step-by-step development of the Universe.


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One thought on “The beginning of the construction of the largest optical telescope in the world

  1. Zychma Jakub says:

    Interesting to note, at 1.5 billion dollars, it *should* still be cheaper than the Hubble telescope. I’m not sure if it will be as effective though, being below the atmosphere, but hopefully optical technology has advanced enough since 1990 to compensate.

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