Two Auxiliary Telescopes at Paranal
The Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at Paranal Observatory has just seen another extension of its already impressive capabilities by combining interferometrically the light from two relocatable 1.8-m Auxiliary Telescopes.
Following the installation of the first Auxiliary Telescope (AT) in January 2004 (see ESO Press Release eso0402), the second AT arrived at the VLT platform by the end of 2004. Shortly thereafter, during the night of February 2 to 3, 2005, the two high-tech telescopes teamed up and quickly succeeded in performing interferometric observations.
This achievement heralds an era of new scientific discoveries. Both Auxiliary Telescopes will be offered from October 1, 2005 to the community of astronomers for routine observations, together with the MIDI instrument.
By the end of 2006, Paranal will be home to four operational ATs that may be placed at 30 different positions and thus be combined in a very large number of ways ("baselines"). This will enable the VLTI to operate with enormous flexibility and, in particular, to obtain extremely detailed (sharp) images of celestial objects - ultimately with a resolution that corresponds to detecting an astronaut on the Moon.
ESO Press Video eso0502 is an extract from ESO Video Newsreel 15, released on March 14, 2005. It provides an introduction to the VLT Interferometer (VLTI) and the two Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) now installed at Paranal. ESO Press Photo eso0508 shows the impressive ensemble at the summit of Paranal. From left to right, the enclosure of VLT Antu, Kueyen and Melipal, AT1, the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in the background, AT2 and VLT Yepun.