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A pioneering opto-electronics technium has received praise from the top level following a visit by European Minister Caroline Flint.
While on a two-day tour of North Wales and following an invitation from MP Chris Ruane, Mrs Flint visited the Technium OpTIC centre at St Asaph Business Park to hear about research work being carried out into harnessing solar energy.
Mrs Flint is keen for companies in North Wales to make greater use of funds to develop new, greener technologies and products - OpTIC recently won a contract to produce mirrors for the European Extra Large Telescope.

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ESO Council Gives Green Light to Detailed Study of the European Extremely Large Telescope
European astronomy has received a tremendous boost with the decision from ESO's governing body to proceed with detailed studies for the European Extremely Large Telescope. This study, with a budget of 57 million euro, will make it possible to start, in three years time, the construction of an optical/infrared telescope with a diameter around 40m that will revolutionise ground-based astronomy. The chosen design is based on a revolutionary concept specially developed for a telescope of this size.

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Extremely Large Telescope
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According to The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it is the answer to life, the universe and everything.
Now, scientists have turned to Douglas Adams's magic number, 42, to help them answer that question for real.
Not satisfied with the spectacular views afforded by the Very Large Telescope, at Paranal Observatory in Chile, astronomers plan to build a bigger version, the Extremely Large Telescope, with a mirror 42m in diameter.
The project, to be undertaken by the European Southern Observatory, will take about 10 years and cost up to $1.7 billion.
The larger the mirror in a telescope, the more light it captures and the more powerful it is.
The scientists had hoped to build an Overwhelmingly Large Telescope, with a 100m mirror, but this idea was abandoned as too ambitious.
The coincidence between the mirror's diameter and author Adams's answer to life, the universe and everything has delighted astronomers working on the project, as the ELT is designed to shed light on the same questions.

"That is one of the big questions: where does the universe come from, and where is it going to? The other big one, of course, is: where does life come from?" - Andreas Kaufer, Paranal Observatory director.

The VLT, which came into service in 2001, has already taken science closer to the answers. It uses four 8.2m telescopes, which are operated separately or together to simulate a 200m telescope, albeit with less sensitivity than a mirror of that size.
In 2004, the VLT captured the first images of a planet beyond our solar system, a gas giant about five times the mass of Jupiter named 2M1207b.
The ELT's much bigger mirror will allow it to see further than the VLT, and in greater detail. It should be able to pick up planets closer in size to Earth. Those found to date have been gas giants that could not harbour life.
Scientists estimate that a 42m telescope would be powerful enough to search about 100 star systems for Earth-like planets. It should be capable of examining them for signs of life, such as the presence of water and methane.
The ELT would also be able to show stars in nearby galaxies, and to look in detail at galaxies more than 13 billion light years away, formed after the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago.

Source The Times

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European Extremely Large Telescope
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ESO, the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, is taking an important step towards the realisation of a new, giant telescope for Europe's astronomers, by creating the ESO Extremely Large Telescope Project Office. It will be headed by Jason Spyromilio, formerly La Silla Paranal Observatory Director.

"We believe that the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is essential if we are to ensure the continued competitiveness of the astronomical community in ESO's member-states. This goal can be achieved in a timely manner through ESO and the community working closely together, and the establishment of the ELT project office is a significant step in this direction" - Catherine Cesarsky, ESO's Director General.

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