Giant Magellan telescope site selected

Oct 04, 2007

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Consortium announces that the GMT will be constructed at Cerro Las Campanas, Chile. This location was selected for its high altitude, dry climate, dark skies, and unsurpassed seeing quality, as well as its access to the southern skies.

“This decision represents a critical step towards realizing our goal of building the premier next -generation astronomical observatory,” said Dr. Wendy Freedman, leader of the GMT Board and director of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, which operates Las Campanas.

“The Giant Magellan Telescope represents the dawn of a new age of astronomical exploration,” stated Dr. Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “As telescopes get larger, we are able to see fainter, farther, and with more clarity than ever before. We can only predict a fraction of the scientific discoveries that will be made using this enormous telescope and the new insights into the universe that we will gain.”

The Las Campanas Observatory is home to the twin Magellan Telescopes, the predecessors of the new instrument. “The GMT builds on the partners’ collective experience in constructing and operating world-class telescopes. Locating the telescope at a proven world-class, mountain-top site in Chile will maximize its productivity and cost effectiveness,” said Prof. Nicholas Suntzeff, head of the astronomy program at Texas A&M University. “Excellent science has come from Las Campanas for several decades; the superb astronomical quality of the site is a significant contributor to this success,” Freedman said.

Scheduled for completion in 2016, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be the first of a new generation of ground-based telescopes. Its large size will offer exceptional resolving power, producing images up to 10 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT will be composed of seven 8.4-meter (27.5-foot) primary mirrors, six of which will be off-axis encircling the seventh to produce a telescope with an effective aperture of 24.5 meters (80 feet).

The first GMT mirror was cast from molten glass in July 2005 and is currently being polished at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory. When completed in early 2009, the final surface will be smooth to an accuracy of 1 millionth of an inch and will follow the precise optical prescription needed to produce the best images theoretically possible.

The Giant Magellan Telescope will help answer a number of compelling scientific questions faced by astronomers today. It will open new avenues of scientific exploration, including:

-- Understanding the origin and evolution of planetary systems beyond our own;
-- Witnessing the formation of stars, galaxies and black holes;
-- Exploring the properties of dark matter and dark energy in the cosmos.

Detailed information about the design of the GMT and the science that it will perform is located at www.gmto.org/ .

Source: Carnegie Institution

Explore further: Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Guiding our search for life on other earths

Feb 17, 2015

A telescope will soon allow astronomers to probe the atmosphere of Earthlike exoplanets for signs of life. To prepare, Lisa Kaltenegger and her team are modeling the atmospheric fingerprints for hundreds ...

Giant Magellan Telescope looking toward construction

Feb 19, 2014

The international consortium of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project has passed two major reviews and is positioned to enter the construction phase. When completed, the 25-meter GMT will have more than ...

Universe's most distant galaxy discovered

Oct 23, 2013

Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin may be former football rivals, but the Lone Star State's two research giants have teamed up to detect the most distant spectroscopically confirmed ...

Third mirror casting event for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Aug 05, 2013

On Saturday, August 24, 2013, the third mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be cast inside a rotating furnace at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, the only facility in the world where ...

Recommended for you

Study of atmospheric 'froth' may help GPS communications

Feb 27, 2015

When you don't know how to get to an unfamiliar place, you probably rely on a smart phone or other device with a Global Positioning System (GPS) module for guidance. You may not realize that, especially at ...

SMAP satellite extends 5-meter reflector boom

Feb 27, 2015

Like a cowboy at a rodeo, NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), has triumphantly raised its "arm" and unfurled a huge golden "lasso" (antenna) that it will soon ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.