German astronomers finish Europe’s largest solar telescope on Tenerife
Studying the Sun is a key to understand the physical processes on and in the majority of stars. Moreover, there is also a very practical aspect: the solar activity affects or even damages satellite systems and power networks in some regions on Earth. Knowing more about it may help to mitigate expensive damages.
The inauguration ceremony will take place on May 21, 2012 on Tenerife.
GREGOR is a solar telescope with an aperture of 1.5 meters and has been designed to carry out observations of the solar photosphere and chromosphere in the visible and infrared part of the spectrum. Due to its large diameter it will allow observations with higher resolution than was possible before. A novel “adaptive optics system” is able to compensate for atmospheric disturbances and provides a detailed image of the Sun, similar to what would be achieved if the telescope was in space. The resulting high spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution will allow scientists to follow physical processes on the Sun on spatial scales as small as 70 km.
During night time GREGOR can also observe bright stars. It will mainly be used for long term monitoring of stars in order to find out whether the distant suns show similar cyclic behaviour as our own.
GREGOR’s design is completely open in order to enable wind cooling of the telescope structure and the mirrors. The classical dome has therefore been replaced by a retractable structure which allows natural air flushing. This open structure places high demands on the mechanical stability of the telescope structure in order to eliminate wind-induced vibrations.
The primary mirror is a lightweight filigree structure made of a special material that does not deform under the heat of the bright Sun. Additionally, the mirror is actively cooled from the back in order to prevent the front side from heating up and thus producing internal turbulence.
From the telescope the light is guided into the laboratory rooms where it can be distributed to a number of analyzing instruments:
- An imaging setup produces images of the solar surface at various wavelengths. These images are expected to show an extraordinary richness of details.
- Studying the photosphere and chromosphere of the Sun, analyzing the interaction of the solar magnetic field and the highly dynamic plasma, will be possible thanks to the interferometric setup.
- A spectrograph will analyze the solar atmosphere by looking into the near infrared part of the spectrum. It will be able to produce detailed maps of the solar magnetic field.
GREGOR will be accessible to the international solar physics community and has the potential to provide a significant boost to solar physics worldwide.
The GREGOR solar telescope has been built by a German consortium under the leadership of the Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik in Freiburg with the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam and the Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung in Katlenburg/Lindau as partners, and with contributions by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, the Institut für Astrophysik Göttingen, and the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
- GREGOR Telescope: http://gregor.kis.uni-freiburg.de/
- Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik Freiburg: www.kis.uni-freiburg.de
- Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP): www.aip.de
- Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung Katlenburg-Lindau (MPS): http://www.mps.mpg.de/de/aktuelles/
- Observatorio del Teide (engl.): http://www.iac.es/eno.php?op1=3&lang=en
- Telescope, mirror, building, observatory, Tenerife:
- Images of the inaugration will be published after the event on May 21:
- Freiburg/KIS: Dr. Reiner Hammer. Tel.: +49-761-3198-216, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Potsdam/AIP: apl. Prof. Dr. Carsten Denker, Tel.: +49-331-7499-297, E-mail: email@example.com
- Katlenburg-Lindau/MPS: Prof. Dr. Sami K. Solanki
- Potsdam/AIP: Dr. Gabriele Schönherr/ Kerstin Mork, Tel.: +49-331-7499-469, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Katlenburg-Lindau/MPS: Birgit Krummheuer (email@example.com), Tel.: +49-5556-979-462
The key topics of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics.The AIP is a foundation according to civil law and is a member of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Association is a network of 86 independent research institutes and scientific service facilities, which strive for scientific solutions for major social challenges.