Thirty meter telescope will help astronomers learn how the stars and planets were formed

By Scott Newman, CCNN Guest Writer

Have you ever looked up into the starry night sky and wondered just what was out there in the deep black? For centuries, scientists and cosmic explorers have used telescopes to explore the mysteries of space.

As telescope technology has improved, scientists have made incredible discoveries about the universe; what it contains and even its ancient history. Now, a group of astronomers from around the world have banded together to create what will become the Earth’s largest optical telescope.

Planned to be built near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be nearly three times as big as its next largest rival, the Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands. The TMT’s 30 meter lens for collecting light from space will be made up of 492 glass segments and enable the telescope to have more light collecting area than any optical telescope currently in existence. Compared to the famous Hubble Space Telescope in Earth’s orbit, the TMT will have 144 times the collecting area and more than 10 times better resolution.

The large lens and ultra-clear resolution of the TMT will enable researchers to obtain clearer images of outer space than any we have yet taken. This means that astronomers will be able to gain further insight into how the stars and planets were formed and even decode the history of galaxies in deep space. Construction is planned to begin in April 2014 and the telescope is scheduled to begin scientific observations as of 2021.