Here is some good news for astronomers and passionate stargazers: construction works on the world’s largest telescope will begin really soon! The project was recently approved by Hawaii authorities, paving the way for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) construction on top of Mauna Kea volcano.
The TMT is designed to be the most advanced telescope available today, allowing astronomers to catch a glimpse of the early years of our universe by seeing 13 billion light years away. Its 100-foot-long (about 30 meters) mirror will enable the device to produce considerably sharper images, even of planets orbiting distant stars. Scientists say the gigantic TMT mirror will reveal the history of the universe by offering an unprecedented look at how the first galaxies formed, billions of years after the Big Bang.
The $1 billion project is the result of collaboration between scientists and universities in Canada, China, India, Japan and the United States. It is scheduled to be completed in 2018. The Mauna Kea dormant volcano is a very popular location for astronomers because its height of 13,796 feet (4,205 meters) and its relatively pollution-free environment allow a clear view of the sky. There are already dozens of telescopes in the area.
The project was met with opposition from various Native Hawaiian groups and environmentalists for being a threat to local ancient burial sites and some endangered species. Hawaiian authorities have attempted to allay concerns by making the TMT team vow that it will train its members on responsible development in respect of the local environment and culture.
The TMT may not retain the title of world’s largest telescope for long. Several European countries are working together to build a larger device, the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will be equipped with a mirror of 138 feet (roughly 42 meters). A location has not yet been selected, but the group is reportedly looking at sites in Spain, Morocco, Argentina and Chile. A separate telescope with an 80-foot (24 meters) mirror will be built in Chile and is also expected to be ready in 2018.
[Image via Cosmicdiary]