Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a planned telescope that will be the first in a new class of Extremely Large Telescopes. It is expected to be ten times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope, which will allow us to see further into deep space with ultra-sharp clarity. The GMT will be located in the same area as the Magellan Telescope, in Las Campanas Observatory near La Serena, Chile. This area is ideal for space watching because it is one of the least light polluted areas on Earth.

Construction for the GMT was started in November of 2015 and full completion of the telescope is expected to be around 2025. When completed, it will be the largest optical observatory in the world. The GMT will be at an altitude of 8,500 feet and it will consist of seven primary mirrors. Operation for the GMT will begin with just four mirrors in 2022, known as “first light”.

One of the reasons why it will be able to peer deeper into space it due to extra large aperture, which will much bigger than most of the telescopes in existence today.

Comparison_optical_telescope_primary_mirrors-
Comparison of apertures of existing telescope primary mirrors

This powerful telescope will work by using light from the edge of the universe that will first reflect off of the seven primary mirrors, then reflect again off of the seven smaller secondary mirrors, and finally, down through the center primary mirror to the advanced Charge Coupled Device imaging cameras. In the CCD, concentrated light will be measured to determine what objects are made of and how far away they are. The telescope will also explore the origins of chemical elements that make up our planets. The GMT will search distant exoplanets for signs of life around other nearby stars in our Milky Way galaxy. This $1 billion project is US-led in partnership with Australia, Brazil, Korea, and Chile.

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