Giant Magellan Telescope: What an Extremely Large Telescope Sees
Chair of the Department of Astronomy
Dan Jaffe, chair of the Department of Astronomy, co-designed an advanced first-generation instrument for the telescope in collaboration with two other institutions. The Giant Magellan Telescope Near Infrared Spectrograph will study young stars, extrasolar planets, and other astronomical targets that radiate in the mid-infrared.
When it is ready for use in 2021, the Giant Magellan Telescope, supported in part by the University of Texas at Austin, will be larger than any telescope in existence today. It will use seven of the largest optical mirrors ever made that weigh 12.5 tons each. The resulting telescope will measure over 80 feet in diameter. It is a result of a major international collaboration of partners in the United States, Australia, Korea, and Brazil, and UT Austin is one of five U.S. universities involved.
Applications: This Telescope Can…
- Produce images ten times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope
- Discover planets around other stars and determine if they’re habitable
- Search for signs of life
- Probe formation of the earliest stars
- Measure masses of black holes
- Explore fundamental issues in cosmology and physics, like dark matter and dark energy