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ESPRESSO Instrument Achieves First Light with All Four Unit Telescopes

13 Feb 2018, 21:25 UTC
ESPRESSO Instrument Achieves First Light with All Four Unit Telescopes
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The ESPRESSO instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has for the first time been used to combine light from all four of the 8.2-meter Unit Telescopes. Combining light from the Unit Telescopes in this way makes the VLT the largest optical telescope in existence in terms of collecting area.One of the original design goals of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) was for its four Unit Telescopes (UTs) to work together to create a single giant telescope. With the first light of the ESPRESSO spectrograph using the four-Unit-Telescope mode of the VLT, this milestone has now been reached.After extensive preparations by the ESPRESSO consortium (led by the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Geneva, with the participation of research centers from Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) and ESO staff, ESO’s Director General Xavier Barcons initiated this historic astronomical observation with the push of a button in the control room.ESPRESSO instrument scientist at ESO, Gaspare Lo Curto, explains the historical significance of this event: “ESO has realized a dream that dates back to the time when the VLT was conceived in the 1980s: bringing the light from all four Unit Telescopes on Cerro Paranal together to feed a single instrument!”When ...

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