Construction begins on the world's first super telescope

May 26, 2017
Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in its enclosure on Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre mountaintop in Chile's Atacama Desert. The 39-metre E-ELT will be the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world — the world's biggest eye on the sky. Operations are planned to start early in the next decade, and the E-ELT will tackle some of the biggest scientific challenges of our time. The design for the E-ELT shown here is preliminary. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

Scientists are a step closer to understanding the inner-workings of the universe following the laying of the first stone, and construction starting on the world's largest optical and infrared telescope.

With a main mirror 39 metres in diameter, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), is going to be, as its name suggests, enormous. Unlike any other before it, ELT is also designed to be an adaptive and has the ability to correct atmospheric turbulence, taking telescope engineering to another level.

To mark the construction's milestone, a ceremony was held at ESO's Paranal residencia in northern Chile, close to the site of the future giant telescope which will be on top of Cerro Armazones, a 3046-metre peak mountain.

Among many other representatives from industry, the significance of the project was highlighted by the attendance of the Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, and President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria.

The ELT is being built by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an international collaboration supported by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Oxford University scientists are playing a key role in the project, and are responsible for the design and construction of its spectrograph; 'HARMONI', an instrument designed to simultaneously take 4000 images, each in a slightly different colour. The visible and near-infrared 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. Supporting researchers to view everything from the planets in our own solar system and stars in our own and nearby galaxies with unprecedented depth and precision, to the formation and evolution of distant galaxies that have never been observed before.

Niranjan Thatte, Principal Investigator for 'HARMONI' and Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford's Department of Physics, said: '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.

'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.'

A time capsule, created by members of the ESO team and sealed at the event, will serve as a lasting memory of the research and the scale of ambition and commitment behind it. Contents include a copy of a book describing the original scientific aims of the telescope, images of the staff that have and will play a role in its construction and a poster of an ELT visualisation. The cover of the time capsule is engraved with a hexagon made of Zerodur, a one-fifth scale model of one of the ELT's primary mirror segments.

Tim DE Zeeuw, Director General of ESO, said: 'The ELT will produce discoveries that we simply cannot imagine today, and it will surely inspire numerous people around the world to think about science, technology and our place in the Universe. This will bring great benefit to the ESO member states, to Chile, and to the rest of the world.'

The ELT is set for completion in 2024, and as the visualisation images show, it is going to be 'out of this world.'

Explore further: ESO signs largest ever ground-based astronomy contract for E-ELT dome and structure

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rderkis
1.3 / 5 (13) May 26, 2017
I love astronomy! I have a research grade Mead 14" RCA 400 in the garage.
These people need to get their priorities in order thou. We are on the verge of fusion energy and that money going to MIT's SPARC or ARC would put us over the top. Fusion would literally save the human race and the Earth. It would take away our dependence on fossil fuel and feed and water the world. Ushering in a era of prosperity for every human on the planet.
Then build your telescopes and make them bigger and better.
arcmetal
4.7 / 5 (3) May 26, 2017
@rderkis ... Here! Here! I second your enthusiasm for astronomy. Between this ELT going up in Chile and the Webb space telescope heading out to a Lagrange point we will be heading for a new era of discoveries.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) May 26, 2017
It definitely will be a way cool observation device...
rderkis
1 / 5 (9) May 26, 2017
heading for a new era of discoveries.


Not if we are all dead because of global warming. Get our priorities in order. Fusion first, astronomy later.
thisisminesothere
4.8 / 5 (17) May 27, 2017
heading for a new era of discoveries.


Not if we are all dead because of global warming. Get our priorities in order. Fusion first, astronomy later.


How about we do both at the same time? I think we are capable.
arcmetal
4.4 / 5 (8) May 27, 2017
heading for a new era of discoveries.


Not if we are all dead because of global warming. Get our priorities in order. Fusion first, astronomy later.


How about we do both at the same time? I think we are capable.

I also believe we can do both at the same time, and we can benefit from each. The momentum to get off fossil fuels is building, and there is no stopping it. Like an opec exec once said "the stone age did not end for lack of stones".
rrrander
1.6 / 5 (14) May 27, 2017
Cut aid to the rat-breeding 3rd world (100 starving saved now means 400 starving in the future, or a giant economic albatross) and build more telescopes.
rderkis
4.4 / 5 (7) May 27, 2017
Cut aid to the rat-breeding 3rd world (100 starving saved now means 400 starving in the future, or a giant economic albatross) and build more telescopes.


Let's just kill anyone that advocates killing anyone because of the hate in their hearts. :-)
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (13) May 27, 2017
Cut aid to the rat-breeding 3rd world (100 starving saved now means 400 starving in the future, or a giant economic albatross) and build more telescopes.


...or how about eradicating the US? It uses 24% of the world's resources for only 5% of the people.

(No, this is not a serious argument. Just showing that if rrrander were serious about saving the planet rather than being a racist little egomaniac he'd put a bullet to his own head in an instant - for the good of humanity)
bert_x
4.4 / 5 (7) May 27, 2017
@rderkis .. money being spent by the European Southern Observatory to build the VLT in Chile is in no way at all connected to money used for nuclear fusion researches in USA, Germany, France, Japan or elsewhere. They are totally separate scientific projects .. neither effects the other. We, meaning mankind, can do both if we simply desire to commit the money, time and effort for them.
rderkis
1 / 5 (3) May 27, 2017
is in no way at all connected to money used for nuclear fusion researches.


Yes, I think I made that clear.
The more money we throw at fusion the sooner it will happen and the sooner suffering from lack of food, clean water, cold, heat will end.
Great we get a new telescope at the cost of a million lives? :-)
Anda
5 / 5 (2) May 28, 2017
@rderkis. I love scifi too.

Wikipedia: "It is estimated that up to the point of possible implementation of electricity generation by nuclear fusion, R&D will need further promotion totalling around €60–80 billion over a period of 50 years or so".

Dreamer? Idealist? @rrrander?
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (8) May 28, 2017
The more money we throw at fusion the sooner it will happen

This always bugs me about the scientifically illiterate. They don't understand the difference between science and engineering.

If you put twice the numbers of engineers on bulding a bridge you're likely to see a speedup. If you put twice the number of scientists at a problem...not so much.
Moreover since you can't just conjur up a scientist capable of making a contribution to fusion research out of thin air. It takes a decade or more to train one to get there. The ones who are trained in this are already working on this. Money incentives don't work in science (if money did work on scientists they'd all be working as industry R&D guys)

There are quite a few research centers for fusion out there:
https://www.ipp.m...weltweit
It's important to keep them well funded...but setting up 5 extra ones isn't going to accomplish anything much extra.
gkam
3.7 / 5 (9) May 28, 2017
"Cut aid to the rat-breeding 3rd world (100 starving saved now means 400 starving in the future, or a giant economic albatross), . . "
--------------------------------------
Cut the air to rrander.
rderkis
1 / 5 (3) May 28, 2017
Wikipedia: "I€60–80 billion over a period of 50 years or so".


Wikipedia is great but I believe more in facts. Here are the facts from studies done not once but dozens of times because people did not believe the studies, so they did their own all reaching the same conclusion.
I know your not going to believe it either so do a google search using these terms "exponential" "growth of technology"

I know your smart because your on this site. Think about what those numbers mean. 10 years 1032X growth! Do you really think in 50 years we will be even using fusion or any other energy we recognize today?
I am not smart enough to know any but a rudimentary way of figuring the error rate of the projection. I think a lot of the studies went back 2000 years as the start. 10 years and divided it by 2000 = .005 error.
go here and look at pdf
http://theemergin...ment.htm
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (8) May 28, 2017
To fine the point down, @antialias, just because one woman can produce a baby in 9 months doesn't mean 9 women can produce a baby in one month.
doogsnova
1 / 5 (11) May 28, 2017
Cut aid to the rat-breeding 3rd world (100 starving saved now means 400 starving in the future, or a giant economic albatross) and build more telescopes.


rrrander is absolutely correct, and he doesn't care about winning points for political correctness. The world's population reached 8.7 billion last year, and is growing by 100m every year. 3rd world people are having 5,6,7,8,9, or more children per woman. In an environment in which is usually desert, with no arable land or water. It's insane. It is harmful to continue sending them aid money and food, because they become completely dependent on it, and then it makes the local farmers unable to earn a living, because the free aid puts them out of business. The 3rd world rats, and even 1st world bunnies must have regulated births, birth control, and birth stoppages, and limit births to no more than 3 per woman. Only then can the population be naturally reduced to sustainable levels over time. But it's probably too late.
PTTG
4.7 / 5 (12) May 28, 2017
@rrrander and @doogsnova: Even if there was nothing morally wrong with advocating for the deaths and forced reproductive control of billions of other human beings, then advocating for the deaths of those people _from a ecological standpoint_, is appallingly ignorant, since the per-capita "footprint reduction" would be trivial. If your disgusting ideology was intellectually rigorous, you would call for the execution of westerners first; that failing proves that you consider the lives of the "third world" to be disposable, less than human.

You are the worst of mankind, in equal measures ignorant and hateful.
rderkis
5 / 5 (7) May 28, 2017
I think anybody that believes killing people is the answer to population growth, should commit suicide to reduce the load on everyone else or admit that that they are morally and ethically bankrupt in their beliefs.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (13) May 28, 2017
You are the worst of mankind, in equal measures ignorant and hateful.

Was gonna type out something similar. But that really sums it up. rrander and doogsnova are still human, but they certainly have put themselves squarely at the bottom of the pile with their posts.

Closet supremacists: Ignorance, cowardice and delusions of grandeur all in a an ugly package.
If this is what 'christian america'* is like, you can keep it

*Anyone else find it hilarious that a country can call itself 'christian' and 'capitalist' at the same time while worshipping military might and guns? Last I checked Jesus was the biggest anti-violence communist, ever.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) May 29, 2017
If this is what 'christian america'* is like, you can keep it
@antialias_physorg
no
that is what racist prejudiced ignorant *ssholes are like

just because some share traits with americans or christians doesn't mean they are representative of christian americans

not defending religion, mind you, just pointing out that there are idiot aggressive prejudiced *ssholes all over the world
Last I checked Jesus was the biggest anti-violence communist, ever
socialist... maybe
anti-violence? nope
he may not have advocated for violence in some cases, however he was a staunch advocate of hebrew law which specifically called for violence in certain cases
jesus was not a pacifist in any way: just to name a few from the NT only
John 2:15
Matthew 10:34
Luke 22:36,38

a good read for a religious scholar: http://www.realcl...sus.html
antialias_physorg
4.8 / 5 (6) May 29, 2017
just because some share traits with americans or christians doesn't mean they are representative of christian americans

You are right. I was out of line painting with such a broad brush.

anti-violence? nope

Well, he was for 'turning the other cheeck' and all that. (Not that that is a particular effective strategy, mind. But gone-toting christians are sorta bizarre. It's like Hindus building nuclear bombs.)

socialist... maybe

How is that only a 'maybe'? He was hard-core communist. He was for treating everyone equal and helping those in need (which is more than 'maybe' in terms of socialist). Then he was all against accumulating wealth (Eye of the needle stuff)

Granted: Jesus is so full of contradictions that one can basically pick and choose what he did/said - never mind what he actually did/said.

Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) May 29, 2017
Well, he was for 'turning the other cheeck' and all that
@antialias_physorg
yes and no

if you examine the texts (this is also done in the above link) you will see that the wording is more about turning the other cheek for an insult

that is a whole different ball of wax, especially as he never disapproves of (etc) military action or other violence required for the state to exist
How is that only a 'maybe'?
he wasn't for forced distribution of wealth or even against accumulating wealth

in fact, it was the wealthy who he literally tuned to in the texts to support his "ministry" (assuming, that is, he existed, of which there is absolutely no evidence other than the tales of a myth-book)

his story about camels and needle's etc is testifying to the dedication the rich have for money
Granted: Jesus is so full of contradictions that one can basically pick and choose what he did/said
absolutely
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 29, 2017
I love astronomy! I have a research grade Mead 14" RCA 400 in the garage
I gave my old C8 and all my stuff to a high school. I had a 55mm super plossl I never even looked through.

Damn I should have kept that plossl. I have a copy lens scope and ive always wondered how it would have worked. But then I never had a 2" diagonal so... mo money mo money...

Ever been to stellafane?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 29, 2017
You are the worst of mankind, in equal measures ignorant and hateful
No the absolute worst of all mankind and higher primates are the people who throw about hyperbole with aplomb.

Beer drinkers are incapable of subtle thought.

I wish I still had that plossl.
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) May 30, 2017
I wish I still had that plossl.
@Otto
so you're nonplossled?

:-D

Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) May 30, 2017
repeated - deleted

not as punny the 2nd or 3rd time
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 30, 2017
You're stuttering dude
You are right. I was out of line painting with such a broad brush
But it is the way you think.

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