Getting to know the powerful telescopes that will soon change the way humans look at the universe

While the James Webb telescope is showing us deeper into the universe than ever before, other giant and powerful telescopes will soon be built that will provide a different and broader view of the universe.

BingMag.com Getting to know the powerful telescopes that will soon change the way humans look at the universe

While the James Webb telescope is showing us deeper into the universe than ever before, other giant and powerful telescopes will soon be built that will provide a different and broader view of the universe.

The first images of the James Webb space telescope have dazzled the world, but mankind is always looking for the next challenge. Currently, building a space telescope larger than the Web would require a significant improvement in the capacity of current launchers.

But a new generation of giant ground-based telescopes is on the way, along with smaller space telescopes optimized for specific purposes. Some of these gigantic tools are under construction and are expected to start working in just the next few years. Instruments whose enormous scale is difficult to imagine!

Sometimes dimensions are important!

During three centuries after the first astronomical telescope built by Galileo, the aperture of telescopes increased more than 100 times, giving them It allowed them to achieve 10,000 times more light collection power than early telescopes. But this progress stopped here.

From 1949 to 1976, the largest mirror of the telescope belonged to the Hale Telescope with a width of 5.1 meters, which was called the Palomar Glass Giant. Glass Giant of Palomar) has become famous. In the years that followed, after the near-failure of the larger BTA-6 telescope in Russia, many astronomers despaired at the conclusion that mankind had reached the limit of telescopes operating at visible wavelengths, and that it was time to see deeper into the cosmos. , we need to put telescopes beyond the atmosphere.

But in recent years, the capacity to use dynamic optical instruments to make smaller mirror segments act as a single mirror, as seen in James Webb's 18 hexagonal segments, The competition to make telescopes bigger started again.

The current single-mirror record holder is the Gran Telescopio Canarias, which has a diameter of 10.4 meters and an area of 74 square meters, which means more than 4 equal to the giant Hale telescope. Although the total size of the mirrors of the "Large Binocular Telescope" (Large Binocular Telescope) is somewhat more than this. But it's still small compared to what's to come.

In the next decade, three giant instruments are expected to experience first light. "Giant Magellan Telescope" or "GMT", "Thirty Meter Telescope" or "TMT" and "Extremely Large Telescope" or "ELT" whose area will be 368, 655 and 978 square meters, respectively.

For comparison, you should know that the James Webb telescope has a collection area Noor is 25.4 square meters. Of course, having a telescope in space is a big plus, but it's not everything. Europe's new Very Large Telescope, under construction in Chile's Atacama Desert, is expected to surpass even James Webb's capabilities in many of its tasks, such as directly tracking Earth-sized planets around neighboring stars.

Before these giant telescopes, we can expect the activity of the Vera Rubin space telescope, which, although a little It's smaller than the largest telescopes out there, but its wide field of view and highly accurate sensor allow it to photograph the entire sky every few nights. The first illumination of this telescope is expected for next year and the full start of scientific operations for 2024.

BingMag.com Getting to know the powerful telescopes that will soon change the way humans look at the universe

Comparison of Mirror Dimensions of Current and Future Powerful Telescopes
CC: Wiki Commons

Radio Telescopes

Telescopes that operate at radio wavelengths, They must be much larger than telescopes that collect visible light visible to humans. But fortunately, these telescopes do not need perfectly accurate and smooth mirrors.

The largest single-dish radio telescope in the world today is the "Five-hundred-meter-Aperture Spherical radio Telescope" or "FAST" is in China. But on the other hand, there are powerful arrays of radio telescopes, including the "Very Large Array" (Very Large Array), which combine the data of several dishes to be able to collect more.

  • The world's largest radio telescopes

In this field, there are also structures on the way that are far beyond the current capacity. "Array of "Square Kilometer Array" or "SKA" will consist of hundreds of radio dishes in Australia and South Africa, and its name indicates the area of collecting waves, i.e. 1 square kilometer.

The core Australia will consist of 100-meter dishes in the "Murchison" region in the west of this country. Its counterpart in South Africa will be located in the Meerkat National Park. Other telescopes have already been built at both locations.

These sites were chosen because of what experts call "radio quite". Given that these telescopes operate at frequencies that include the signals used by FM radio, these waves should not interfere with waves billions of light years away.

  • The most promising sign of intelligent extraterrestrial life may have been man-made

Additional stations will also be scattered across the continents of Africa and Australia, allowing these arrays to be used for some purpose. Scientifically, they act like a dish the size of a continent.

The square kilometer array will test general relativity with an accuracy now impossible, probing the universe from before the first stars were born, mapping a billion galaxies. and advance the search for dark matter.

This massive array will also probe a number of currently unexplained radio sources and will be humanity's best chance to identify alien civilizations. .

BingMag.com Getting to know the powerful telescopes that will soon change the way humans look at the universe

square kilometer area; One of the most powerful telescopes of the future. Credit: SKA. Dedicated telescopes. Some may even exceed the $10 billion cost of the James Webb telescope. Once built, scientists' demand for observing time will far exceed the capacity of these telescopes.

Thus, an alternative approach is to build smaller, cheaper telescopes that are carefully designed for specific tasks.

A specific example of this is the TOLIMAN telescope, which has only one purpose: to discover whether the stars Alpha Centauri A or B have habitable planets. Planets orbiting this pair of stars as the closest Sun-like stars would be prime targets for the search for life, but none have yet been confirmed. A handful of other binary systems are close to being useful and practical, but will actually only be launched to study two stars. However, its cost will be thousands of times less than James Webb's.

The Huntsman telescope, which is now in the adjustment phase, is even cheaper. By combining 10 Canon telephoto lenses, this device will discover planets in distant orbits that NASA's planet hunter TESS has failed to find and will answer questions about the formation of galaxies and individual stars.

Cover photo: A graphic design of the European Southern Observatory's ELT telescope in Chile
Credit: ESO

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