Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Ground-Based Telescopes Have An Extremely Large Future

The European Southern Observatory has undertaken a concept study for the next generation of ground-based Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs). Dubbed OWL ("OverWhelmingly Large"), ESO's concept is conceived as a 100 m. diameter optical and near-infrared, adaptive telescope (illustrated).
  • OWL image gallery .
  • London, UK (SPX) Apr 11, 2005
    The largest ground-based optical telescopes in use today use mirrors that are 10 m (33 ft) across. But the prospects for future Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) are looking up.

    According to recent studies by international teams of astronomers and leading astronomical organisations, the next generation of optical telescopes could be 50-100 metres (165 - 330 ft) in diameter - big enough to fill a sports stadium.

    This "quantum leap" in size has important implications, since astronomers want to capture every photon of light that comes their way, and a 100m mirror has a collecting area up to 100 times greater than existing instruments.

    Furthermore, a 100m telescope would have extremely sharp vision, with the ability to see objects at up to 40 times the spatial resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

    On Friday 8 April, Dr. Isobel Hook of Oxford University told the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Birmingham about the compelling scientific case for Extremely Large Telescopes which has been developed at a series of meetings over the past four years.

    The results of this evaluation process, which involved more than 100 astronomers, have recently been published, coinciding with the start of the European Extremely Large Telescope Design Study.

    "A team of over 100 European Astronomers has recently produced a brochure summarising the science that could be done" said Dr. Hook.

    "This work is the result of a series of meetings held in Europe over the last 4 years, sponsored by the EC network OPTICON.

    "The new report explains how an ELT will revolutionise all aspects of astronomy, from studies of our own solar system - by producing images of comparable detail to those from space probes - to the edge of the observable Universe."

    As the report states: "The vast improvement in sensitivity and precision allowed by the next step in technological capabilities, from today's 6-10m telescopes to the new generation of 50-100 m telescopes with integrated adaptive optics capability, will be the largest such enhancement in the history of telescopic astronomy.

    It is likely that the major scientific impact of these new telescopes will be discoveries we cannot predict, so that their scientific legacy will also vastly exceed even that rich return which we can predict today."

    Astronomers believe that with an ELT it will not only be possible to find planets orbiting other stars, but also to identify and study habitable Earth-like planets by identifying the presence of liquid water, oxygen and methane.

    Many of the mysteries about the high-energy Universe will also be answered. An ELT would be able to provide key insights into the nature of black holes, galaxy formation, the mysterious "dark matter" pervading the Universe and the even more mysterious "dark energy" that is pushing the Universe apart.

    An ELT will also be sensitive enough to detect the first galaxies that were born only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, as well as very early supernova explosions, whose light has travelled for over 10 billion years to reach us.

    "Some of the most exciting discoveries cannot be predicted now," said Dr. Hook. "New astronomical instruments have always surprised us with the unexpected."

    An ELT would make such advances possible for two main reasons - the large collecting area enables it to detect the faintest sources, and the telescope's huge diameter allows extremely sharp images (provided the effects of atmospheric turbulence are corrected by adaptive optics).

    Would it be possible to build such a telescope?

    "Initial studies are very positive, suggesting that a 50-100 m segmented telescope could be built within 10-15 years for a cost of around 1 billion Euros," said Dr. Hook.

    A major design study is now starting in Europe, aimed at developing the technology needed to build Extremely Large Telescopes.

    The study has been awarded 8 million Euros from the EC Framework Programme 6 plus additional funds from the participants (the European Southern Observatory, together with universities, institutes and industry around Europe, including the UK).

    Related Links
    RAS National Astronomy Meeting Website
    Search SpaceDaily
    Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

    Astronomers Expect To Be "Dazled" By Views Of Ancient Universe
    Sydney, Australia (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
    For the last five years, a team of astronomers at the University of Cambridge and the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney, Australia, has been building a special instrument to search for the most distant galaxies in the Universe.

    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once

    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly

    paypal only

    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

    The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.