Faculty of Science

MOSAIC to explore first galaxies in Universe

The new instrument will be the workhorse instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope.

The European Southern Observatory, ESO, has signed a contract with the MOSAIC consortium to design the multi-object spectrograph MOSAIC that will be the workhorse instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope, E-ELT. With its 39 meter diameter primary mirror it is the biggest telescope in the world. This large telescope is under construction in northern Chile now.

Upon completion in 2026, MOSAIC will be the world-leading multi-object spectrograph facility, contributing to all fields of astronomy, from extra-solar planets, to the study of the halo of the Milky Way and its satellites, and from resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies out to observations of the earliest ‘first-light’ structures in the Universe.

“Future of astronomy is to explore new uncharted territory”, says professor Alexis Finoguenov from the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki.

“In conjunction with new space missions Euclid, JWST, and Athena to be launched after 2020, MOSAIC will participate in the discovery and study the properties of the first galaxies in the Universe, reveal how black holes were born in galaxies and study the formation of the first groups of galaxies.”

Finoguenov is a member of the core of the MOSAIC designers’ team, the instrument steering committee, which role is to oversee the construction of the instrument.

“The instrument will combine high multiplex and high spatial resolution to resolve important questions in astronomy and cosmology”, he explains.

“Cosmology research at the University of Helsinki is covering all major experimental, observational and theoretical efforts. With the recent Finnish national infrastructure grant for Euclid and the addition of MOSAIC at E-ELT, our group will be part of world-leading experiments beyond 2030.”

The ESO contract was signed by the French National Institute for Earth Sciences and Astronomy, which is the leading institute of the MOSAIC consortium on March 18, 2016, during the MOSAIC kick-off meeting at the Paris Observatory in the presence of the team led by François Hammer from Meudon Observatory, France.

The consortium includes five leading countries, France, UK, The Netherlands, Brazil and Germany, and six associated partners: Austria, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Text: Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu
Image: NASA (background), ESO (telescope drawing) and MOSAIC Consortium (instrument drawing)

18.3.2016