The European Solar Telescope (ITS T, for its acronym in English) will be at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma), after the approval given by the International Scientific Committee (CCI) of the Canary Islands Observatories.
The decision, taken at the first of the Committee’s biannual meetings and held virtually, involves the construction of the largest European infrastructure dedicated to observing the Sun and the consecration of the Canary Islands as the place with the highest concentration of solar telescopes in the world. .
Construction of the largest European infrastructure dedicated to observing the Sun will begin in 2023 at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, on La Palma.
The Committee, which is made up of representatives of all the countries involved in the Observatories, has positively valued the proposal of the European Solar Telescope Project Office after receiving the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Astronomical Characteristics of the Canary Observatories (SUCOSIP).
This subcommittee ensures that the new infrastructures do not disturb the scientific quality of the Canary Observatories and reports to the CCI, which is in charge of approving or not the facilities in the proposed location.
EST will be located in the area of Swedish Solar Telescopes (SST) and Dutch (DOT), at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory. The SST is recognized worldwide for having obtained some of the best images of the solar surface.
The final location of EST has been established taking into account the requirements that a solar telescope must meet to optimize its scientific results, avoiding disturbances in nearby infrastructures. The two existing solar telescopes in an already anthropized area can give up their space to the EST, minimizing the environmental impact of the new installation.
First light in 2028/2029
The construction of the European Solar Telescope on La Palma is scheduled to begin in 2023/24, once the necessary funds are consolidated. It is expected to see first light in 2028/29.
EST will have a 4.2m primary mirror and an advanced adaptive optics system (a technology designed to reduce image distortions caused by Earth’s atmospheric turbulence).
The main objective of the telescope will be to investigate the structure, dynamics and energy of the lower solar atmosphere to study phenomena such as sunspots or flares with unprecedented precision.
Therefore, this telescope will be able to distinguish structures on the solar surface of only 30 km. Thanks to its large mirror and its special optical design, EST will also be able to make highly accurate measurements of magnetic fields, greatly improving the capabilities of any existing solar telescope today.
The main objective of the telescope, which will allow a better understanding of the solar magnetic activity, will be to investigate the structure, dynamics and energy of the lower solar atmosphere to study phenomena such as sunspots or flares, with unprecedented precision.
EST will be a technologically unique telescope in the world and will represent the maximum exponent of European terrestrial solar physics. For this reason, since 2016 it has been included in the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI, for its acronym in English).
The project is promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST), which includes 26 institutions from 18 European countries. Among them, in Spain, is the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, coordinator of the project and responsible for several work packages, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA), which manages the entire communication package and has collaborated with the project from the scientific and technological point of view from its origins.
The Observatories of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) are part of the network of Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS) of Spain.
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