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Giant Hawaii telescope to focus on big unknowns

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BY AUDREY MCAVOY
The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Is there life on planets outside our solar system? How did stars and galaxies form in the earliest years of the universe? How do black holes shape galaxies?

Scientists are expected to explore those and other fundamental questions about the universe when they peer deep into the night sky using a new telescope planned for the summit of Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

But the Thirty Meter Telescope is a decade away from being built. And Native Hawaiian protesters have tried to thwart the start of construction by blocking a road to the mountain. They say installing yet another observatory on Mauna Kea’s peak would further defile a place they consider sacred.

Activists have fought the $1.4 billion telescope but the state Supreme Court has ruled it can be built. The latest protests could be the final stand against it.

Here’s a look at the telescope project and some of the science it’s expected to produce.

Why would the telescope be more powerful?

The large size of the telescope’s mirror means it would collect more light, allowing it to see faint, far-away objects such as stars and galaxies dating back as long as 13 billion years.


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