ASU joins project to build the world’s largest optic telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization announced on Wednesday, Nov. 29 that ASU is the latest university to join the project to build the the world’s largest optical telescope.

The organization is an international collaboration of universities and institutions working to create a telescope that will help acquire information about planets beyond our solar system as well as the formation of the universe.

“ASU has a great deal of expertise in some of the key areas we’re hoping GMT will address, including the early universe, extrasolar planets and astrobiology,” Patrick Young, an associate professor at ASU’s School of Earth and Space Explorationsaid.

Young said he is most excited about the ability to better study Earth-like extrasolar planets that might have evidence of life and help researchers better understand how life formed on Earth.

GMT will be the first of the next generation of telescopes that are much larger and more powerful than current optical telescopes. These “extremely large telescopes,” as they are being called by scientists, can take in more light and provide researchers with more detailed information.

“Being involved in GMT will put ASU on the forefront of astronomy for the next generation, because these (telescopes) are going to be the workhorses that open up opportunities for scientific new discoveries,” Young said.

Telescope technology has come a long way from the refracting telescopes built by Galileo Galilei. The GMT’s optics will be comprised of seven mirrors weighing 17 tons each.

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