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.
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.
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 on wikipedia-> fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypert%C3%A9lescope
Presentation of the Hypertelescope-> principle of the Hypertelescope (PDF format).
Document at the Collège de France:
Very large conventional telescopes:
Giant telescope E – ELT
The E – ELT described on wikipedia-> fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_Telescope
The E – ELT on the web site of the ESO-> www.eso.org/public/france/teles-instr/e-elt
Telescope giant TMT
TMT on wikipedia-> fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_Telescope
Website of the TMT-> www.tmt.org