By Ruth Brown, Newser
Scientists are currently hard at work on a new telescope thatpromises to have 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope -but we're going to have to wait awhile.
So far, only oneof an eventual seven massive mirrors has been completely cast andpolished for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Each mirror is 27 feetacross, weighs 20 tons, and takes a year to polish, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The project's cost? $700 million, reports Space.com.
"Weexpect to be able to make observations and spectrographic studies ofthe first stars that formed after the Big Bang," says the VP of thenonprofit coordinating the project, per the Times. "We'll be able toobserve the earliest galaxies, as those stars assembled, and answer thequestion, when did black holes arrive?"
Assumingthings go as planned, the GMT will be installed in Chile's AtacamaDesert in 2022. If that sounds a long time to wait for better spacephotos, good news: The current Magellan telescope has just been upgradedto be twice as sharp as the Hubble.
Astronomers have already usedthe new optics system, called MagAO, to capture a picture of two starsthey've never been able to separate before.
"I have been imaginingTheta 1 Ori C for over 20 years and never could I directly see that itwas in fact two stars," says a scientist from the University of Arizona,per CBS News. "But as soon as we turned on the MagAO system it wasbeautifully split into two stars just 0.032 arcseconds apart."
As for the good old Hubble, it recently found a blue planet-not that you'd want to visit.