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Towards an Atacama Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope

Project description

A design study for a new sub-millimeter astronomical observatory

Our understanding of the formation, destruction, and evolution of objects in the Universe requires a comprehensive view of the sky at millimeter and sub-millimeter (sub-mm) wavelengths. From the discovery of dusty sub-mm galaxies to the ringed nature of protostellar disks, the current generation of sub-mm facilities has opened a new window for astronomical discoveries. The EU-funded AtLAST project will take a giant technological leap into a next-generation large aperture (50 meters in diameter) single-antenna telescope with a field-of-view of two degrees, an area equivalent to 16 full moons and about 500 times larger than any existing large single-dish sub-mm facilities have achieved. The project aims to obtain a feasibility study and telescope design that take into account the technical, operational and environmental challenges of such infrastructure and are able to achieve the transformational science goals.


"Observations of the sky at sub-millimeter and millimeter ((sub)mm) wavelengths have yielded transformational results in the study of the origin of chemical complexity, the birth of stars and planetary systems, the evolution of galaxies across cosmic times and the large-scale architecture of the Universe. The current generation of 10-meter class single-dish (sub)mm telescopes has opened a new window for astronomical discoveries, by revealing physical processes and components that are invisible at shorter wavelengths. These facilities, with interferometers used for detailed follow-ups, have enabled astrophysicists to go far beyond the biased ""optical/infrared"" view of the Universe, often prompting major revisions of theoretical models.

However, it is now clear that these previous facilities will not be able to meet the challenges of 21st century Astrophysics. Indeed, the astronomical community worldwide has agreed that a transformational leap in discovery potential can only be enabled by a next generation, large aperture (50-meter diameter), single dish telescope operating at (sub)mm wavelengths.

We hereby propose a design study for the Atacama Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (AtLAST). Our vision of AtLAST includes: a 50-m class dish, with high throughput and a field of view of two degrees, located at a high, dry site in the Atacama desert where the transparent atmosphere enables observations at frequencies up to the terahertz regime. We envision AtLAST as an international partnership operating a facility telescope, and we will explore ways to make the observatory fully powered by renewable energy. Such infrastructure will be unique in the landscape of current research facilities. Our project aims to obtain a comprehensive feasibility study and telescope design that take into account the technical, operational, and environmental challenges of such infrastructure, and that can achieve the transformational science goals defined by the community.


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Net EU contribution
€ 1 174 582,50
0313 Oslo

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Norge Oslo og Viken Oslo
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 174 582,50

Participants (4)