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The race of Giants

"More the mirror of a telescope, the more it allows to make new discoveries."

The founding principle of optics in astronomy predicts that over the surface of the mirror of a telescope is great, more he will collect light and better will be the definition of the resulting image.

This adage works beautifully and thoroughly examined since the 17th century and the invention of the first astronomical optical instruments. It continues in the race to the Gigantism which pushes scientists to design and produce ever larger telescopes. Their giant mirrors are now several tens of meters in diameter (such as the E – ELT or TMT) and produce images with unmatched definitions.


 Size comparison of different optical telescopes in the worldSize comparison of different optical telescopes in the world – wikimedia


The largest telescope in project currently is the European Extremely Large Telescope (E – ELT). It will have a mirror segmented 39.3 m in diameter and its cost is estimated at 1.2 billion euros. More mirrors of the telescopes are large, more infrastructure is heavy and plus their cost is high.

Materials and techniques that have enabled the production of such colossi reach their limits. Their weight and their size makes them immovable, hardly manoeuvrable and their study, production and operating costs require financing difficult to bear across the continents.

To meet the scientific challenges of the future, see more, see below, it becomes necessary to invent a new form of optical instrument which the basic principle used to overcome physical constraints and move, at lower cost, to all new scales of dimensions.

A new approach

"The small mirrors make the large telescopes"

Astrophysics constantly pushes the limits of science and whether it is in Cosmology or planetary, observations are struggling to make account new theories. On one side, we have constantly need new images, more accurate and better defined, more distant universe or a smaller field.

On the other hand, the simple principle leading to the perpetual dimension of the mirrors of the telescopes increase turns binding at the moment for the development of future instruments, but it could soon be called into question by the development of a new instrument for astronomical of advanced imaging: the Hypertelescope.

schema-sphere-lensDiagram of the focal sphere of the hypertelescope

Invented by Professor Antoine Labeyrie du Collège de France, the principle of the Hypertelescope, to obtain better images, is more to maximise the size of a single mirror, but focus at a single point reflections of a multitude of small mirrors of a few centimetres in diameter as if they were one.

These small mirrors are much easier to produce and much less expensive than the very large current mirrors. And the principle of interferometry optical, including Professor Labeyrie is a pioneer in astronomy, they form together the equivalent of a telescope whose diameter is the distance of the farthest mirrors.

The image produced by such a device is a direct and instant image, and not a digital image reconstituted after calculations from successive images as is often the case. The gain in precision is huge.

The principle of the hypertelescope is radically innovative. It solves the technical and physical size of the mirrors and can produce a direct optical image that was never available.

If working hypotheses hold true, the device of the Hypertelescope will thus exceed, and by far, all the telescopes classics currently in service and put France in advanced in the field of observational astronomical research.

Here begins the adventure…


To go further…

The hypertelescope:

The Hypertelescope on wikipedia->

Presentation of the Hypertelescope-> principle of the Hypertelescope (PDF format).

Document at the Collège de France:

Comparison of the Hypertelescope to very large telescopes on the ground and in space (PDF Format)

Very large conventional telescopes:

Giant telescope E – ELT

The E – ELT described on wikipedia->

The E – ELT on the web site of the ESO->

Telescope giant TMT

TMT on wikipedia->

Website of the TMT->

List of pages

The telescope of the future

The telescope of the future The Hypertelescope, an innovative french project and a world first Antoine Labeyrie, now Professor Emeritus of the College of France, is a pioneer of interferometry in astronomy. He imagined and began to realize with...

Development of the Hypertelescope

The telescope, in the future "The future of the hypertelescope is played here and now" Since 2012, Professor Labeyrie and his team are working to realize the project of the hypertelescope thanks to financial support from the College de France. The...

Technical principle

Overcome the limits "The hypertelescope promises a scientific revolution" The five largest existing monolithic mirrors, constructed at the turn of this century have a diameter of 8.4 m. Four of them equip the VLT (Very Large Telescope) built by ESO...

Environment and ecology

The Hypertelescope, Green Science "The hypertelescope blends into the mountain and makes body with it" The Hypertelescope prototype is being developed since the summer of 2011 in the Alpes de Haute Provence near Barcelonnette. The site of the Valley...

The Hypertelescope of Ubaye

The Mountain Telescope "An astronomical instrument of the dimensions of a mountain. The Hypertelescope has been developed since 2011, during its experimental phase, in the Valley of the Moutiere, not far from Barcelonnette, in the Alpes de Haute...

A world exclusivity

An innovative project "If science is not interested in the crazy things, she is likely to miss interesting things. " A. Labeyrie See more... The current scientific advances in astronomy depend on our power of observation. To plumb the...

A terrestrial Hypertelescope

On the scale of a mountain "A telescope outside the norm that reverses the principles of traditional instruments" The principle of the Hypertelescope is simple. Instead of having a large mirror, Professor Labeyrie has imagined the establishment...

A space Hypertelescope

 Hypertelescope in Space "See the passage of the seasons on exo-planet..." The principle The hypertelescope can be installed in space with many benefits compared to others telescopes on land or in space or even to a hypertelescope on land. The ...