Visions 13: Mega-telescopes

The next generation of telescopes with mirrors up to 100 metres across will revolutionise astronomy

Visions 13: Mega-telescopes

Today, we can peer into the farthest reaches of the Universe, thanks to a range of powerful telescopes which can detect light at various wavelengths. 

The optical and infrared varieties have huge mirrors up to 10 metres across which can gather and focus the faint smudges of light from very distant galaxies.

However, ambitious plans are now afoot to build a new generation of gargantuan telescopes with mirrors up to 100 metres in diameter, dramatically outclassing instruments such as America’s 10-metre Keck telescopes (and the 8-metre Gemini telescopes – in which the UK has a share). 

A 100-metre telescope would have 100 times more light-gathering power, resulting in a leap in performance equivalent to that yielded by Galileo’s invention of the telescope 400 years ago.

Visions 13: Mega-telescopes (PDF, 158 KB)