Large Astronomical Facilities: Their Fundamental Importance for Swiss Astronomers

Astrophysics and cosmology have experienced a golden age over the last two decades, due to fundamental observational and theoretical progresses in all areas investigated. Swiss astronomers have made substantial contributions to those fields thanks to the many modern facilities they can use throughout the world. Without a regular access to them, and international collaborations, present day research in astronomy is unthinkable. This booklet is meant to highlight the impact and their importance for Swiss researchers.

Large Astronomical Facilities: Their Fundamental Importance for Swiss Astronomers

Source: Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (2017) Large Astronomical Facilities: Their Fundamental Importance for Swiss Astronomers. Swiss Academies Communications 12 (7)

  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) antennas work in tandem to form one large telescope. Some of the antennas in this image all point toward the same direction. The brightly shinning Milky Way Galaxy shoots through the sky in the background.
  • Aerial photograph of the home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Mount Paranal in Chile. The Paranal Observatory with its four giant 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of the VLT is located at an altitude of 2,600 metres in the Atacama desert. In the background we can see the 6,720 metres-high volcano Llullaillaco, located a mind-boggling 190 km further East.
  • ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) during the testing of the new Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere in order to create much sharper images.
  • The ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a 39 m-class telescope that will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope world-wide and gathering 16 times more light than the largest optical telescopes existing today. It will be able to correct for the atmospheric distortions from the star, providing images 16 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The ELT will enable detailed studies of planets around other stars, the first galaxies in the Universe, super-massive black holes, and the nature of the Universe’s dark sector.
  • As soon as the Sun sets over the Chilean Atacama Desert, ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) begins catching light from the far reaches of the Universe. The VLT has four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes such as the one shown in the photograph. Many of the photons — particles of light — that are collected have travelled through space for billions of years before reaching the telescope’s primary mirror. The giant mirror acts like a high-tech “light bucket”, gathering as many photons as possible and sending them to sensitive detectors. Careful analysis of the data from these instruments allows astronomers to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.
  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA) antennas work in tandem to form one large telescope. Some of the antennas in this image all point toward the same direction. The brightly shinning Milky Way Galaxy shoots through the sky in the background.Image: D. Kordan/ESO1/5
  • Aerial photograph of the home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Mount Paranal in Chile. The Paranal Observatory with its four giant 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of the VLT is located at an altitude of 2,600 metres in the Atacama desert. In the background we can see the 6,720 metres-high volcano Llullaillaco, located a mind-boggling 190 km further East.Image: ESO/G.Hüdepohl (atacamaphoto.com)2/5
  • ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) during the testing of the new Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere in order to create much sharper images.Image: ESO/G. Hüdepohl (atacamphoto.com)3/5
  • The ESO Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is a 39 m-class telescope that will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope world-wide and gathering 16 times more light than the largest optical telescopes existing today. It will be able to correct for the atmospheric distortions from the star, providing images 16 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. The ELT will enable detailed studies of planets around other stars, the first galaxies in the Universe, super-massive black holes, and the nature of the Universe’s dark sector.Image: ESO4/5
  • As soon as the Sun sets over the Chilean Atacama Desert, ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) begins catching light from the far reaches of the Universe. The VLT has four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes such as the one shown in the photograph. Many of the photons — particles of light — that are collected have travelled through space for billions of years before reaching the telescope’s primary mirror. The giant mirror acts like a high-tech “light bucket”, gathering as many photons as possible and sending them to sensitive detectors. Careful analysis of the data from these instruments allows astronomers to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.Image: ESO/José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org)5/5

Categories

  • Research infrastructure
English, German, French