We may be about to unravel the secrets of the universe, thanks to what’s happening in northern Chile.
Humanity has never been closer to discovering the secrets of the universe thanks to something that is taking place in South America, and specifically in northern Chile. Workers have begun construction of the Extremely Large Telescope, a massive structure with a main mirror 39 meters in diameter that will make it the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world.
As the name implies, ELT will be absolutely huge, possessing the ability to correct for atmospheric turbulence and thus making the quality of its images pristine. A ceremony was held at the European Space Observatory’s Paranel residencia in Chile to mark the beginning of construction on top of a mountain nearby.
The telescope is being built in collaboration with authorities in the UK’s Science Technology Facilities Council, as well as the University of Oxford, which is building the spectrograph called HARMONI. HARMONI can take thousands of images at a slightly different color all at once.
“‘HARMONI’ will enable scientists to form a more detailed picture of the formation and evolution of objects in the Universe,” the University of Oxford statement reads. “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.
“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.”