01May2012

How Hubble’s Stunning Colour Images Are Created

 Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured half a million images – in black and white. Zoltan Levay of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland.

This reveals how his team creates the spectacular colour pictures we know. He also explains how the finished images are interpreted to unlock the secrets of vast galactic clouds of dust and gas, and tell the story of the birth and death of stars. Credit: The Guardian

 

Make Room For The World’s Largest Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) – the world’s largest telescope

Astronomers have begun to blast 3 million cubic feet of rock from a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes to make room for what will be the world’s largest telescope when completed near the end of the decade.

The telescope will be located at the Carnegie Institution’s Las Campanas Observatory – one of the world’s premier astronomical sites, known for its pristine conditions and clear, dark skies.

Over the next few months, more than 70 controlled blasts will break up the rock while leaving a solid bedrock foundation for the telescope and its precision scientific instruments.

Dr. Charles Alcock, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, at the mountaintop ceremony said, “The GMT will play an important role in helping us understand the Universe and our place in the cosmos.”

The Giant Magellan Telescope is being built by a consortium of institutions from the US, South Korea and Australia with funding from both private and public sources.

To date 40 percent of the telescope’s ultimate $700 million price tag has been committed and active fundraising is underway to secure the remaining funds. Dr. Matthew Colless, Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory said, “Astronomers from Australia, and countries around the world, travel to Las Campanas to make use of its dark, clear skies that produce images as sharp as anywhere on Earth.

 Video of the start of the mountaintop blasting

It is fitting that the world’s largest telescope be located at this superb site.” In January of this year the partners cast the second of GMT’s seven 28-foot diameter primary mirror segments at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory. The seven primary mirrors, each weighing 20 tons, are the heart of the giant telescope, providing nearly 4000 square feet of light-gathering area.

Optical scientists at the Mirror Lab are putting the finishing touches on the first mirror segment, whose surface now matches its optical prescription to better than one millionth of an inch. Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the GMT Project Director, said, “2012 is a banner year for the GMT project as we complete the design process, develop the primary mirrors and begin work on the site in Chile.” Source; Message To Eagle

More information regarding the GMT project and Las Campanas Observatory can be found at www.gmto.org.

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