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What Is The Thirty Meter Telescope?

by Brea Aamoth on November 2nd, 2015

Answering Questions About Our Place in the Universe

What is the scientific potential of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Maunakea? Join Dr. Christophe Dumas of TMT International Observatory for a look beyond the headlines at “Exploring Our Universe With the Thirty Meter Telescope” at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Maunakea Skies program on November 20, 2015 at 7 pm.

TMT will use state-of-the-art technology, combining adaptive-optics systems with powerful imaging and spectroscopic analysis of the light emitted by astronomical bodies, to explore Northern skies at a dramatically enhanced sensitivity and spatial resolution across many wavelength regimes. This sharpened vision will shed new light on the processes involved in the formation and evolution of the Universe, and its visible and hidden nature.

In this Maunakea Skies presentation, Dr. Dumas will invite the audience to become explorers of our universe, as our ancestors did centuries ago in their search for new uncharted territories. We will travel through space and time to visit the most primitive cosmic eras, when the first extra-galactic structures were emerging. We will journey through the life- and death-cycle of stars to understand how planets are born, and how we ourselves are made of stardust. Returning closer to ‘home’ we will explore other planetary systems, most of them very different from our own, ending our voyage among the astonishing diversity of planets and smaller bodies which populate our own solar system.

Time will be reserved for answering questions from the audience about TMT, the scientific studies it will facilitate, and the astronomical questions it will likely answer once this new ‘giant eye’ sees light for the first time.

DR. Christophe Dumas

Dr. Christophe Dumas

Dr. Christophe Dumas is an astrophysicist specializing in the study of the formation of planetary systems, in particular that of our own solar system and its early chemistry. He is an expert in characterizing the physical properties of primitive planetary surfaces using infrared and visible instruments combined with high-angular resolution spectro-imaging techniques. A graduate of the University of Paris, France, Dr. Dumas spent his graduate years as a junior scientist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Currently the Observatory Scientist for the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory, Dr. Dumas will serve as Head of its future operations. Prior to this appointment, he was in charge of the scientific operations of the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope (also known as ‘Paranal Observatory’), the largest worldwide optical observatory, based in the Atacama desert of Northern Chile. He also worked for many years at the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as mission scientist for various space-mission concepts such as the Terrestrial Planet Finder and Astrobiology Explorer.

The Maunakea Skies program will be hosted by ‘Imiloa Planetarium Technician, Emily Peavy, who will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, and point out prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.

‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9703.


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