The scientists have laid the foundation stone for the construction of the world’s ‘biggest optical telescope’ in Chile, which will be some five times larger than the currently used top observing instruments.
This Extra Large Telescope (ELT) which is conjured up by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an amalgamation that involves Brazil, Germany, and Britain holds the potential to transform our understanding of the universe, say its supporters, with its main mirror that will measure some 39 meters (43 yards) across. Located on a 3,000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert, it is due to begin operating in 2024.
The main mirror will consist of 800 hexagonal sections, each with a width of 1.4 meters, whose design is intended to fit together correctly. Moreover, the structure will be sheltered by an 80-meter dome.
“ELT’s primary mirror will be five times bigger and will collect 13 times higher amount of light than most of the currently operated telescopes. Moreover, the gap between the telescope that currently ESO has and the ELT will be as big as the leap between Galileo’s naked eye and his telescope”, Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of ESO confirmed.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet who inaugurated the beginning of construction at the site said, "What is being raised here is more than a telescope. Here we see one of the greatest examples of the possibilities of science".