Very Large Telescope
The four Unit Telescopes that form the VLT together with the Auxiliary Telescopes
|Alternative names||eso VLT|
|Part of||Paranal Observatory|
|Location(s)||Cerro Paranal, Atacama Desert, Antofagasta Region, Atacama Desert, Chile|
|Organization||European Southern Observatory|
|Altitude||2,635 m (8,645 ft)|
|Observing time||340 nights per year|
|Wavelength||300 nm – 20 μm (visible, near- and mid-infrared)|
|First light||1998 (for the first Unit Telescope)|
|Telescope style||Ritchey–Chrétien telescope|
|Diameter||4 x 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes (UT)|
4 x 1.8-metre moveable Auxiliary Telescopes (AT)
|Angular resolution||0.002 arcsecond|
|Focal length||120 m (393 ft 8 in)|
The VLT consists of four separate telescopes, each with a main mirror 8.2m across. They are often used separately, but they can be used together to get a very high angular resolution. The observatory also has four movable Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) of 1.8 m aperture.
It operates at visible and infrared wavelengths. Each individual telescope can detect objects roughly four billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye. When all the telescopes are combined, the facility can achieve an angular resolution of about 0.001 arc-second. This is equivalent to roughly two metres at the distance of the Moon.
Among the pioneering observations carried out using the VLT are the first direct image of an exoplanet, the tracking of individual stars moving around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and observations of the afterglow of the furthest known gamma-ray burst.
- "The Very Large Telescope". ESO. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
- Trimble V. & Ceja J.A. (2010). "Productivity and impact of astronomical facilities: a recent sample". Astronomische Nachrichten. 331 (3): 338. Bibcode:2010AN....331..338T. doi:10.1002/asna.200911339.
- "The Very Large Telescope — the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory handout". ESO. Retrieved 2011-08-05.