New Technology Telescope

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New Technology Telescope

The New Technology Telescope, or NTT, is an altazimuth Ritchey-Chrétien-Cassegrain telescope with a 3.58 meter mirror.

It belongs to the European Southern Observatory , is part of the La Silla Observatory in Chile and was an early pioneer of active optics technology . The telescope began operating in 1989 . Both the telescope and the dome design were completely redesigned with regard to optimal image quality. It is located at an altitude of 2375 m at the coordinates 29 ° 15 '32.1 "  S , 70 ° 44' 1.5"  W .


The NTT with the dome open

The main mirror of the NTT is flexible and can be actively brought into its optimal geometric shape by actuators during the observation time. The secondary mirror can also be actively controlled in all three dimensions. This active optics technology developed by ESO is now used on all larger, modern telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope and the future E-ELT . The octagonal design of the NTT's dome is another technological advancement. On the one hand, the dome is relatively small, on the other hand, the flap ventilation system creates a uniform air flow along the mirror with significantly reduced turbulence, which leads to a significantly better image quality.

Although this technology was installed earlier in other telescopes such as the Nordic Optical Telescope , it was the NTT that made full use of the active optics for the first time. The naming was programmatic for many of the used, partly revolutionary properties. Particular attention was paid to the air flow on the mirror, on the one hand because of the optimized ventilation system and on the other hand because of the reduction in heat sources near the mirror. Even after its construction, a number of further developments, both hardware and software, were tested and installed at the NTT in order to improve its quality and were later found again in the Very Large Telescope.

The NTT on La Silla top left

The New Technology Telescope initially had the same problem as the Hubble Space Telescope with an incorrectly calibrated mirror. In the case of the NTT, however, the error could be eliminated solely through the active optics.


Time-lapse sequence of a fisheye image inside the dome of the NTT.

The NTT is currently equipped with two instruments:


The NTT and its instruments were involved in astrophysically important discoveries such as the dissolution of the galactic center , the first observations of sun-like oscillations in a star and the breaking of several distance records in the discovery of distant galaxies. It helped in the discovery of a disk around a massive young star , clearing the mystery of star formation in massive stars, and it contributed important observational results to the clarification of the question of how asteroids are changed by the solar wind .

Perhaps one of the most significant achievements is the observation of the orbits of stars around the galactic center, which helped determine the mass and radius of the supermassive black hole in our Milky Way .

Web links

Commons : New Technology Telescope  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The ESO New Technology Telescope . Retrieved May 18, 2011.
  2. ^ The New Technology Telescope (NTT) . Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  3. ^ William J. Broad: Panel Finds Error by Manufacturer of Space Telescope , New York Times. August 10, 1990.  Mentions null corrector error that happened during the manufacture of the New Technology Telescope, and the correction by the active optics system.
  4. ^ European Southern Observatory : La Silla Instrumentation . July 14, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  5. At Last: the Enigmatic Center of the Milky Way Sighted! , ESO. October 31, 1990. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ First Observations of Solar-Like Oscillations in Another Star (1) - Minute temperature fluctuations detected in Eta Bootis. , ESO. November 23, 1994. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  7. ESO Press Releases - Search results for '"New Technology Telescope" + "Science Release"' . Retrieved May 18, 2011.
  8. Unraveling the Mystery of Massive Star Birth - All Stars are Born the Same Way , ESO. July 14, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  9. Solar wind tans young asteroids , ESO. April 22, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ Surfing a Black Hole - Star Orbiting Massive Milky Way Center Approaches to within 17 Light-Hours , ESO. October 16, 2002. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  11. Unprecedented 16-Year Long Study Tracks Stars Orbiting Milky Way Black Hole , ESO. December 10, 2008. Retrieved May 18, 2011.