the European Space Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has reached a new milestone thanks to its ESPRESSO tool. With this, all four of the vlt’s 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes working together as a single giant telescope. This is a great achievement for the VLT, which was first thought of in the 1980s, essentially transforming it into the world’s largest optical telescope.
ESPRESSO is a spectrograph instrument which receives the light from each of the four Unit Telescopes through a series of lenses, mirrors and prisms. The possibility exists to receive the light from only one of the Unit Telescopes and all four, giving researchers a wider range of options. Previously, the Unit Telescopes to feed light to the VLT Interferometer, but is limited when it comes to faint objects.
Feeding all of the four Unit Telescopes of light for the spectrograph instrument has been called a game-changer for researchers who will have access to the high-resolution spectrographs and the ability to investigate these faint objects.
the Researchers have big plans for the VLT ESPRESSO instrument, which will be used to find and characterize exoplanets, as well as to “the variability of the fundamental constants of physics.” This work will give rise to the observation of weak, distant quasars, making the light-gathering power from all the four Unit Telescopes of the fed in the vital tool.
This is only the beginning, researchers tease, with the ESO director general, Xavier Barcons, noting it gives us “a superb taste of what the next generation of telescopes, such as ESO’s extremely Large Telescope, will offer in a few years.” Anyone can virtually explore the VLT and view camera feeds live from the observatory, here.