News & CommentAstronomy

World's Biggest Telescope Is About to See the Light

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Science  01 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5364, pp. 670-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5364.670

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CERRO PARANAL, CHILE-- By the time it is fully operational in 2001, the Very Large Telescope (VLT) will be the largest in the world. To get the best possible viewing conditions for the $800 million instrument, its builder, the European Southern Observatory, has sited it on this 2632-meter peak in the arid Atacama desert of northern Chile. Using a clutch of new ultrasensitive optical and infrared cameras and spectrometers, researchers plan to use the VLT to probe the riddle of the origin of cosmic structure, to help answer the question of how the first generation of galaxies came into being, and to unveil the true nature of the dark matter permeating the universe.