Dr Aprajita Verma (Dept Physics, Univ of Oxford) Project Scientist for the UK Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Programme and International Program Coordinator for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Responsible for conducting independent research on galaxies at all redshifts.
With a primary mirror of diameter 39m (about 20% larger than Stone Henge’s Sarsen Circle), the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the “World’s Biggest Eye on the Sky” operating in the visible to infrared (IR) wavelength range. The ELT will collect 13 times more light than the largest visible/IR telescopes today allowing us to peer deeper and further in the Universe than ever before. Using novel technologies (including adaptive optics) to overcome the effect of the atmosphere, the ELT will be able to take images of the sky in exquisite detail, 16 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. This deeper and finer view of the Universe will help to address many exciting open questions in contemporary astrophysics and cosmology, including the nature of extra-solar planets and the first galaxies to form stars at the edge of the visible Universe. More excitingly, it will make many discoveries, raising new questions. In this talk, she describes the major steps in telescope design that have led up to the forthcoming era of extremely large telescopes and some of the scientific questions they will address. The next decade will witness exciting new discoveries in the Universe with facilities like the ELTs, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, and the Square Kilometre Array (to name but a few) becoming operational. In this landscape, the ELT will play a central role in delivering ground-breaking science contributing to our evolving understanding of the Universe.
There will be a short break and then an astronomy news update from Gordon Ewen.