The construction of the largest European solar telescope in The Palm will start in 2024. The scientific infrastructure, which will be presented next Tuesday, May 3 in Madrid, is one of the great objectives for which the Institute of Astrophysics of Canary Islands (IAC) has been fighting for more than a decade.
Both the scientific center of the Archipelago, which leads this initiative in collaboration with the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA), and the Higher Center for Scientific Research (CSIC), they trust that this powerful astronomical facility will see the light in 2029.
The European Solar Telescope (EST) will be installed in the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, a decision that was made a year ago when the promoters of the project opted for La Palma over the alternative: the Teide Observatory, in Tenerife.
According to the director of the IAC, Rafael Rebolo, despite the fact that daytime observation facilities have traditionally been centered on Tenerife, “it is not surprising that in this case La Palma was chosen because it also has optimal conditions.” “The Swedish Academy of Sciences which installed its solar telescope there has achieved lThe best images of the Sun from around the globe“, remembers the person in charge of the Astrophysicist.
In fact, it is precisely in that same space where it is planned to build the new EST: in the area of the Swedish (TSS) and Dutch (DOT) Solar Telescopes. “In this way, not only are the facilities renewed, but also the environment is less affected by the building,” Rafael Rebolo points out.
The new telescope, which will become the second great scientific work dependent on the IAC behind the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), it will have a primary mirror with a diameter of 4.2 meters and a height of 44 metres.
Regarding the dimensions, Rafael Rebolo argues that “solar telescopes are mounted on a high tower because the heating of the ground produced by the sun generates turbulence during the day and air movements so if the mirror is not raised the image would be distorted”.
According to the CSIC, the scientific infrastructure will have a advanced adaptive optics systemtechnology designed to reduce image distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence.
The EST will be located in the space currently occupied by two other telescopes at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
With this telescope, it will be possible to distinguish structures on the solar surface of 30 kilometers and it will also be possible to make high-precision measurements of the magnetic fields, the IAC has reported. Just a few days ago, Rebolo himself explained that in order to definitively promote the EST, advancing in a new form of management infrastructure, through the creation of “a multinational institution that would settle in the Canary Islands”. In addition, at that time he regretted that despite not having “closed a financing agreement” from the IAC the bureaucratic process has begun to “manage all the permits”.
The objective of the EST project is iInvestigate the structure, dynamics and energy of the lower solar atmospherewhere magnetic fields continuously interact with the plasma and magnetic energy is occasionally released in the form of powerful explosions.
This requires observing fundamental processes on a small scale, that is, less than 30 kilometers on the solar surface. To do this, the telescope will be equipped with a 4.2-meter mirror, an advanced adaptive optics system and specialized instruments for high-sensitivity observations throughout the visible and near-infrared spectrum.
Considered a flagship of European solar physics, the project was included in the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum of Research Infrastructures (ESFRI, for its acronym in English) in 2016 and is promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST), which is made up of 26 institutions belonging to 18 European countries and represents a community of more than 600 physicists solar.
Documentary about the history of observing the Sun
The president of the CSIC, Rosa Menéndez, will welcome the event, which will include the participation of Raquel Yotti, Secretary General for Research, and Inmaculada Figueroa, Deputy Director General for the Internationalization of Science and Innovation. The researchers Manuel Collados, from the IAC, and Luis Bellot, from the IAA-CSIC, will be in charge of explaining in detail the EST project and the Spanish contribution to this project.
An act in which it will be screened Reaching for the suna documentary presented by its director Emilio García (IAA-CSIC) that reviews more than 400 years of history on the observation of the Sun in Europe since Galileo Galilei and that places the European Solar Telescope in the framework of research in physics current sun.