Tmt comp background


What is TMT?

The Thirty Meter Telescope is one of a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity and detail. Its 30m diameter prime-mirror will enable observations from ultraviolet to mid-infrared wavelengths with up to 80 times the sensitivity of today's largest telescopes. State-of-the-art adaptive optics systems will compensate for the blurring effects of Earth's atmosphere, and deliver images at infrared wavelengths that are more than 12 times sharper than those of the famed Hubble Space Telescope, and four times sharper than JWST.

Observing in wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, TMT will allow astronomers to address fundamental questions in astronomy ranging from understanding star and planet formation to unraveling the history of galaxies and the development of large-scale structure in the universe.

Artist Concept of TMT Primary Mirror
What will TMT Explore?

TMT will be a unique tool for probing many outstanding open questions in astronomy.

● Worlds and Suns in Context – studying exoplanetary systems, including their formation, evolution and interconnections to answer questions such as, "Is there life outside our solar system?" and "What can other planetary systems tell us about our own?"
● New Messengers and New Physics – connecting the new frontiers of gravitational wave detection, time domain astronomy, and state-of-the-art telescopes to answer fundamental questions in physics and cosmology such as the basic properties of matter.
● Cosmic Ecosystems - decoding the interconnections of gas, stars, and black holes in galaxies that shape the evolving life cycle of galaxies.

Its adaptive optics and spectroscopic capabilities will allow astronomers to explore this and so much more. In the end, the advanced capabilities of the TMT will lead to discoveries far beyond what we can envision today.

You can learn more about what scientific questions may be answered with the help of TMT.

Who is building TMT?

The Thirty Meter Telescope is being designed and developed by the TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO). TIO is a non-profit international partnership among  the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada). The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate and major funding for TMT has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.

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Maunakea at sunset
Girl Scouts of Hawaii STEM Festival
Our Story So Far ...

In 2009, the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) selected Maunakea, on Hawaiʻi Island, as the preferred site to build and operate TMT after a rigorous five-year campaign that spanned the globe. During the site testing campaign, some of the best observing conditions that were ever encountered at any of the candidate sites were at Maunakea. Located above approximately 40 percent of Earth’s atmosphere, Maunakea has a climate that is particularly stable, dry, and cold; all of which are important characteristics for capturing the sharpest images and producing the best science. In addition, the atmosphere over Maunakea offers exceptional conditions for astronomical measurements with adaptive optics, which will be equipped on TMT.
While Maunakea is TMT’s preferred site, Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos in La Palma on the Canary Islands has been selected as TMT’s alternate site due to its location in the Northern Hemisphere and its ability to also support TMT’s core science areas. 
Education and  engagement are a central part of our story. Under new direction in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, TMT staff are building the relationships and trust necessary for supporting Hawaiʻi’s various communities through grassroots communications and community-driven educational programs. Through partnerships and collaborations with Hawaiʻi community leaders, schools, and non-profit organizations, we are focused on meeting our communities’ needs with innovative programming in education, infrastructure and mālama ʻāina (honoring the land).