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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 Provence, on the heights of the ubaye Valley,

This Valley has been carefully chosen for its features that lend themselves to the project. Its slopes in a shape of a rounded Bowl limit the needed infrastructure for the implementation of the mirrors. Its East-West orientation provides the ideal setting for tracking the celestial Vault.

View of the La Moutière’s valley, Alpes, France : Vallon-de-la-moutiere-Vue-vers-lest-860x280

Where in the world is the Hypertelescope of Ubaye :


Mirrors that form the reception area of the hypertelescope are arranged on the bottom and the slopes of the Valley. The first studies are with just two mirrors to develop all the necessary techniques and get the first interference fringes.

The hypertelescope will subsequently grow by increasing the number of mirrors. They will be arranged according to a schema in spiral or randomly on the slopes of the Valley. This is to reduce the risk of peaks of intensity on the image produced.

A gondola is suspended to a cable stretched between two sides 800 metres apart over 100 meters above the ground. It is roughly the height of a 40-storey building.

It supports an new optical device developed at the College de France, which is responsible to collect and combine the Starlight reflected by the mirrors on the ground. The light thus collected is returned to a camera that can be installed directly on the basket or even anchored to the floor, at the exit of a telescope pointing accurately to the basket .

Plan-General-illustre-3-moutiere-Carlina-1024x586Schema for the installation of the hypertelescope in the Valley of the Moutiere

Its evolution

The hypertelescope lends itself to a scalable modular installation. From the first group of installed mirrors, it may produce scientific results. Well before the completion of the installation.

The current prototype model will consist of a set of mirrors on the ground already totalling 57 metres in diameter that can in principle be enlarged to 200 metres, which would give it a resolution of 0.5 millisecond of arc, or 80 times better than the Hubble space telescope when the effect of atmospheric turbulence will be corrected by an adaptive optics system.

In a second phase, it is intended that it will be possible to reach a version with a overall diameter of one kilometer and a number of mirrors that could be progressively increased to a thousand. It would allow a considerable gain in sensitivity and magnitude limit and a greatly improved resolution.

The scientific adventure

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