Scientists can look back through time
The Australian National University‘s Mount Stromlo Observatory is the home of the Advanced Instrument and Technology Centre, where researchers will design a number of parts for the Giant Magellan Telescope.
The $700 million telescope will be the largest optical telescope ever built. It is being constructed by an international consortium, of which ANU is a member, and will sit high atop the Chilean Andes.
When completed in about 2018, it will provide images up to 10 times sharper than the Hubble telescope, allowing astronomers to gaze at objects more than 12.5 billion light years from Earth.
”It will tell us about the early universe, including the formation of the first stars and the evolution of galaxies only a few million years after the Big Bang,” Senator Carr said.
He said that the federal government was contributing $88 million towards the construction of the new part of the centre, with the total contribution for the whole project about $220 million.
”We have some of the greatest astronomers in the world working in Australia, and we have got to make sure that we provide them with the very best equipment so that they can continue their work bringing new inventions to Australians and making sure that we maintain our standard of living in this country.”
The Advanced Instrument and Technology Centre will help design parts for the Magellan telescope, including an instrument to pick up the most distant objects in the universe and adaptive optics technology that will remove the blur that arises from looking through our atmosphere.
The director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mount Stromlo, Harvey Butcher, said the new centre and the technologies it will produce would help scientists look back in time to the earliest parts of the universe.
”The biggest telescopes we have now allow us to see objects in which the light has taken five or six or seven billion years to come to us, really far away, so we can look back in time and see what these galaxies were like five, six or seven billion years ago,” Professor Butcher said.
”The very first objects formed about 12.5 billion years ago, and we would like to see them, so we are designing the [Giant Magellan Telescope] that will be able to see objects so far away that the light has taken the whole history of the universe to come to us.”
The next stage of the centre is due to be completed in July.
- LOFAR takes the pulse of the radio sky (eurekalert.org)
- Underground telescope could peer beyond the Big Bang (telegraph.co.uk)