The Weizmann Institute joins the giant Magellan telescope project


The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) hosted the Israel Weizmann Institute of Science in its international consortium of distinguished universities and research institutes that are building the giant telescope last September.

The partnership between Israel’s leading multidisciplinary research institution and the Next Generation Telescope Organization reinforces the understanding that the completion of the Giant Magellan Telescope – the largest and most powerful infrared optical telescope ever developed – is most important. of great importance to the global scientific community.

The telescope is built in the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the highest and driest regions on the planet. The magnificent conditions should allow a clear view almost every night.

Engineering of the Giant Magellan is underway. The telescope uses seven of the world’s largest mirrors and advanced optical technology to see billions of light years in the universe, providing images at ten times the resolution of the famous Hubble Space Telescope. The revolutionary image quality will allow scientists around the world to explore new clues to the evolution of the universe, including the search for life on distant exoplanets.

Why is the development of telescopes so crucial for scientific progress? It’s important to remember that just 100 years ago, scientists thought that the “Milky Way” was the entire universe, the only galaxy in the world. However, the 1920s brought Edwin Hubble (hence the name of the Hubble Telescope), who used his famous 100-inch telescope to determine that the universe actually contained multiple galaxies.

The Koffler accelerator, Weizmann Institute of Science (credit: WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE)

While the discoveries made by new telescope technology are impressive, perhaps most impressive of all is how these telescopes will help us answer the universe’s toughest questions: “Are we alone?” being the leader among them. The Giant Magellanic Telescope can help us answer this.

“Joining the GMTO consortium is a huge step forward for the Weizmann Institute of Science,” according to Professor Avishay Gal-Yam, director of the Deloro Center for Space and Optics at the Weizmann Institute. “It is a privilege to join a global team at the forefront of astrophysics research, which will allow us to accelerate our own observatory capacities, to develop instruments that will improve the way in which the main astrophysics teams of the world explore the universe and share their expertise with the best partners. in the field of astrophysics.

Before becoming the 13th official member of the GMTO project, Weizmann’s professors helped generate one of the first scientific instruments for the Giant Magellanic Telescope: a spectrograph designed to study Earth-like planets light years away.

“The addition of the Weizmann Institute of Science is a great victory for our international consortium,” said Walter Massey, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the GTMO. “We just got stronger and more capable. Their expertise is essential to the mission to point the world’s greatest mirrors to the heavens and unveil its many cosmic secrets.

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