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30 January 2003 Critical science for the largest telescopes: science drivers for a 100m ground-based optical-IR telescope
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Extremely large filled-aperture ground-based optical-IR telescopes, or ELTs, ranging from 20 to 100m in diameter, are now being proposed. The all-important choice of the aperture must clearly be driven by the potential science offered. We here highlight science goals from the Leiden Workshop in May 2001 suggesting that for certain critical observations the largest possible aperture - assumed to be 100m (the proposed European OverWhelmingly Large telescope (OWL) - is strongly to be desired. Examples from a long list include: COSMOLOGY: * Identifying the first sources of ionisation in the universe, out to z ≥14 * Identifying and stufdying the first generation of dusty galaxies * More speculatively, observing the formation of the laws of physics, via the evolution of the fundamental physical contants in the very early Universe, by high-resolution spectroscopy of very distant quasars. NEARER GALAXIES: *Determining detailed star-formation histories of galaxies out to the Virtgo Cluster, and hence for all major galaxy types (not just those available close to the Local Group of galaxies). THE SOLAR SYSTEM: A 100-m telescope would do the work of a flotilla of fly-by space probes for investigations ranging from the evolution of planetary sutfaces and atmospheres to detailed surface spectroscopy of Kuiper Belt Objects. (Such studies could easily occupy it full-time.) EARTHLIKE PLANETS OF NEARBY STARS: A propsect so exciting as perhaps to justify the 100-m telescope on its own, is that of the direct detection of earthlike planets of solar-type stars by imaging, out to at least 25 parsecs (80 light years) from the sun, followed by spectroscopic and photometric searches for the signature of life on the surfaces of nearer examples.
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Timothy G. Hawarden, Dainis Dravins, Gerard F. Gilmore, Roberto Gilmozzi, Olivier Hainaut, K. Kuijken, Bruno Leibindgut, Michael Merrifield, Didier Queloz, and Rosie Wyse "Critical science for the largest telescopes: science drivers for a 100m ground-based optical-IR telescope", Proc. SPIE 4840, Future Giant Telescopes, (30 January 2003);


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