Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT)

In June 2015, The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization announced approval to commence construction of the world’s first of a new generation of extremely large optical telescopes. This was followed in Nov 2015 by a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of on-site construction of the telescope. AAL Board Deputy Chair Anne Green joined leading scientists, senior officials, and supporters from an international consortium of universities and research institutions for the celebrations.

Australian involvement in the Giant Magellan Telescope project, at the 10% level, through partners AAL and the Australian National University, is made possible through contributions from the Commonwealth Government and through the Government's Education Investment Fund (EIF) and National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a next generation optical/infra-red telescope. At 25 metres in diameter, it will have over six times the collecting area of the largest telescopes currently in existence. It is being developed by the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) on behalf of a consortium of universities in the USA, along with the Australian National University (ANU) and Astronomy Australia Ltd (AAL).

The Australian GMT Project Office (AGMTPO) is located at Mt Stromlo Observatory, ANU. Australia's participation in the GMT project is made possible through the Australian Government's Education Investment Fund (EIF) and National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

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"Australian membership in GMT will ensure its astronomers remain at the forefront of astrophsyical research, giving them access to what will be the largest and most advanced optical/infrared telescope ever constructed."
- Prof Warrick Couch, Director of the AAO and AAL representative on the GMT Board.


GMT Science

The light-gathering area and resolution that the GMT will achieve is required to address some of the most exciting questions of the 21st century: How did the first galaxies form? What are dark matter and dark energy that comprise most of our universe? How did stellar matter from the Big Bang congeal into what we see today? What is the fate of the universe? Are we alone?

"The GMT will play a leading role in the international race to identify planets orbiting stars near the Sun that could host life and potentially reveal the signatures of biological processes. The first years of GMT's operation will be an incredibly exciting time." 
- Prof Chris Tinney, UNSW, AAL representative on the GMT Science Advisory Council.


Australian instrumentation

The GMTIFS (GMT Integral Field Spectrograph) instrument from the ANU has been chosen as one of six GMT first-light instruments for which Conceptual Design Studies are being undertaken. GMTIFS will be used with the GMT's Laser Tomography Adaptive Optics (LTAO) system and the primary instrument is an adaptive-optics-corrected near-infrared integral-field spectrograph. The ANU is also contracted to develop the GMT LTAO system concept.

The AAO-designed MANIFEST (MANy-Instrument FibrE SysTem) is a general-purpose fibre-positioning system, to feed the GMT instruments such as GMACS (the proposed optical imaging spectrograph), NIRMOS (the proposed near-infrared imaging spectrograph) and G-Clef (high resolution optical spectrograph).

AAL representation on GMT Committees

GMT Board:  Nigel Poole, National Measurement Institute.

GMT Governance Committee: Mr Mark McAuley, AAL.

GMT Science Advisory Committee: Assoc. Prof Andy Sheinis, until  March 2017.

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Artist's impression of the GMT. Image credit: Giant Magellan Telescope/GMTO.