Nine European countries have today (25 July 2023) joined forces to commit to the construction of the European Solar Telescope (EST). The EST will be the biggest solar telescope ever constructed in Europe and aims to provide unparalleled new insights into the phenomena of space weather.The first light of the EST is planned for 2028-2029! Construction of the largest ever solar telescope built in Europe, designed to provide unparalleled insight into the phenomena of space weather, will also be supported by the GSO of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation.
Launched in 2008, the European Solar Telescope (EST) project aims to provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These events determine so-called ‘space weather’, which can lead to geomagnetic storms on earth - seen as the northern lights - and have a strong influence on our technological society.
Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, from HSPF and from the University of Sheffield’s School of Mathematics and Statistics, will be a principal investigator for the UKUC project. He said: “The EST will be the biggest ground-based solar telescope constructed in Europe and will keep its European partners at the forefront of solar physics research, so it's fantastic that so many UK partners have been able to come together to join the EST Canary Foundation today.
“This kind of unrivalled research infrastructure will provide European astronomers and plasma-astrophysicists with an extraordinary tool for observing the Sun and its space weather, one that will pave the way for scientific advancements in some of the world’s biggest and most important challenges, such as the development of green fusion energy.
“By being able to study the physical processes happening in the solar chromosphere in such detail for the first time, we will gain new insight into how the heating mechanisms occur that underpin the plasma heating processes. Learning from how nature does it will help us explore how to replicate the process for the benefit of humankind.”
The optical configuration and instrumentation of EST have been meticulously designed to study the magnetic and dynamic coupling of the solar atmosphere, and capture the interactions between the different atmospheric layers of the Sun.
Additionally, a comprehensive set of instruments will be installed to enable simultaneous observations across multiple wavelengths. This unique capability will give the EST a higher efficiency compared to existing or future telescopes, whether ground-based or space-borne.