L'observatoire d'astrophysique du Smithsonian, aidé de ses partenaires internationaux, met au point une nouvelle génération de télescopes les plus grands et les plus puissants du monde. Une fois prêt à l'emploi, le télescope géant Magellan (GMT) sera le plus grand télescope optique du monde. Il détrônera le télescope spatial Hubble, offrant des images de l'univers 10 fois plus nettes que son prédécesseur.
Slated to become operational by 2029, the GMT will explore the distant universe and look for signs of life outside our planet.
Preparations are already underway in the Chilean Andes at the Las Campanas Observatory. Here, in the remote Atacama Desert, the GMT will profit from some of the clearest, driest skies on Earth. When finished, the telescope will stand 65-meters high, with seven of the largest telescope mirrors ever employed. Each mirror will be 8.4 meters in diameter and together will provide more than 368 meters, or 3,691 square feet, of light-collecting area. The GMT primary mirrors are being made at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Tucson, Arizona.
Smithsonian partners in the GMT Consortium include the Australian National University, Astronomy Australia Limited, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago.
The international GMT Consortium selected the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to design and build the GMT-Consortium Large Earth Finder (G-CLEF), a powerful new spectrograph tool. G-CLEF will be the first instrument attached to the GMT initially. Together, GMT and G-CLEF will be able to detect worlds the size of Earth, located in the warm, habitable zones of distant stars.
This first-of-its-kind telescope will be capable of exploring the ancient past of the universe, probing the Big Bang and the formation of the first stars, galaxies, and black holes. Many of the discoveries the GMT will make possible are unknown, but with this new technology scientists may be able to answer the perennial question: “Are we alone in the universe?”