Extremely Large Telescope

Garching bei München; Germany (HQ), Cerro Armazones, Chile (Observatory)

Martino Romaniello, Michael Sterzik, Andrew Williams.

The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a revolutionary scientific project for a 40m-class telescope that will allow us to address many of the most pressing unsolved questions about our Universe. When operational in the year 2025, it will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world, with a light-gathering area of 13 times larger than the largest optical telescopes existing today. It will be able to correct for image distortions caused by the turbulence in the Earth atmosphere, providing diffraction-limited images that are 16 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The ELT will be located on the Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

The ELT is built and operated by ESO, the European Southern Observatory. ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe. Its main mission, laid down in the 1962 Convention, is to provide state-of-the-art research facilities to astronomers and astrophysicists, allowing them to conduct front-line science in the best conditions. It is supported by Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile.

The scientific challenge

The ELT is motivated by a wide range of scientific challenges encountered by modern astronomy. It will vastly advance astrophysical knowledge by enabling detailed studies of planets around other stars, the first galaxies in the Universe, super-massive black holes, Cosmology and fundamental physics and the nature of the Universe's dark sector (Dark Matter and Dark Energy).

The Impact

ESFRIs and astronomical data centres are developing the next generation of functionalities to create and publish high level value-added data products. Stewardship involving the creation and publication of these data is necessary to ensure their quality as a trusted resource. The application of new techniques such as Machine Learning and analytics will provide new capabilities. A common data stewardship culture for data produced by the ESFRIs and those generated and deposited by the community will lead to optimal exploitation of ESFRI data.