“So powerful it will be able to image directly rocky planets beyond our Solar System.”
By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News
Europe has chosen the place it wants to build the biggest telescope the world.
The observatory will be constructed on Cerro Armazones, a 3,000m-high mountain in Chile's Atacama Desert.
The E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) will have a primary mirror 42m in diameter - about five times the width of today's best telescopes.
Astronomers say the next-generation observatory will be so powerful it will be able to image directly rocky planets beyond our Solar System.
It should also be able to provide major insights into the nature of black holes, galaxy formation, the mysterious "dark matter" that pervades the Universe, and the even more mysterious "dark energy" which appears to be pushing the cosmos apart at an accelerating rate.
Final go-ahead for the E-ELT is expected at the end of this year.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) organisation which is managing the project says it hopes the telescope can be operational by 2018.
The estimated cost is in the region of a billion euros. …