World's largest and most technologically advanced telescope to debut on July 24

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Washington, July 14 (ANI): The world's largest, most technologically advanced telescope is all set to make its formal debut on July 24 in Spain's Canary Islands.

Known as the Gran Telescopio Canarias, the telescope has a 10.4-meter diameter mirror, and has more light-collecting area than any other telescope.

Perched 7,874 feet above sea level on a mountain on the island of La Palma, the GTC has 6 square meters more light collecting area than any of the roughly one dozen 8- to 10-meter telescopes worldwide.

With a mirror composed of 36 hexagonal segments thought to have the smoothest surfaces ever made, it is also the world's most technologically advanced optical telescope.

Sensors keep the mirrors aligned to counteract the force of gravity, with the result that they act as a single surface, even as the telescope is rotated and aligned in place.

According to Stan Dermott, chairman of UF's (University of Florida's) astronomy department, the GTC's size and technical attributes enable it not only to gather more light than any other telescope, but also resolve the light into sharper and clearer focus.

"For astronomers, those capabilities make it a powerful tool to study cosmic origins - the early days of the universe and the very early moments in the mysterious births of stars, planets and galaxies," he said.

"The interpretation of the structure of the disks where new planets form is highly dependent on the quality of the image," he said, adding that the GTC also will enable the discoveries of new planets, possibly including the first habitable planet.

At the inauguration of the telescope, officials and astronomers from the University of Florida, the only US institution that is part of the project, will join more than 500 astronomers, journalists and celebrities in a ceremony presided over by Spain's King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. (ANI)

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