Construction began on 26 May 2017 on the European Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which when completed will be the world's largest optical telescope. The telescope will be located in Chile's Atacama Desert.
Director General of ESO, Tim de Zeeuw, and President of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria marked the attendance in the ceremony to inaugurate the construction of the telescope.
The ELT, conceived by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), will be around five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today.
Located on a 3000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert, it is due to begin operating in 2024.
Key highlights of the Extra Large Telescope
• The main mirror of the ELT will measure some 39 meters.
• It is also designed to be an adaptive telescope and has the ability to correct atmospheric turbulence.
• Oxford University scientists are playing a key role in the project. They will be responsible for the design and construction of its spectrograph; HARMONI, an instrument designed to simultaneously take 4000 images, each in a slightly different colour.
• The visible and near-infrared instrument will harness the telescope's adaptive optics to provide extremely sharp images.
• 'HARMONI' will enable scientists to form a more detailed picture of the formation and evolution of objects in the Universe.