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Construction Begins on ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope

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PARANAL, Chile, June 21, 2017 — Construction has begun on the world’s largest optical and IR telescope, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), at the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Built by ESO and supported by the U.K.'s Science and Technology Facilities Council, the ELT is an adaptive telescope with a 39-m mirror and the ability to correct atmospheric turbulence. Oxford University scientists are responsible for the design and construction of its HARMONI spectrograph, an instrument designed to simultaneously take 4000 images, each in a slightly different color. The visible and NIR instrument will harness the telescope's adaptive optics to provide extremely sharp images.

HARMONI will enable scientists to form a more detailed picture of the formation and evolution of objects in the Universe. It will support researchers in viewing everything from the planets and stars in our own solar system and nearby galaxies to the formation and evolution of distant galaxies that have never been observed before.

"For me, the ELT represents a big leap forward in capability, and that means that we will use it to find many interesting things about the Universe that we have no knowledge of today,” said Niranjan Thatte, principal investigator for HARMONI and professor of astrophysics at Oxford's department of physics. “It is the element of exploring the unknown that most excites me about the ELT. It will be an engineering feat, and its sheer size and light grasp will dwarf all other telescopes that we have built to date.”

The ELT is set for completion in 2024. ESO is an intergovernmental astronomy organization in Europe and a ground-based astronomical observatory supported Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile.
Jun 2017
BusinessExtremely Large TelescopeELTEuropean Southern ObservatoryESOUnited KingdomUKScience and Technology Facilities CouncilHARMONIOxford UniversityAmericasEuropeAsia-Pacific

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