COVID-19 Emergency. CALL FOR TENDER for the Preliminary design of the European Solar Telescope three main systems SUSPENDED until the emergency status in Spain is revoked.
Alerta por COVID-19. La licitación de Diseño preliminar de tres de los sistemas principales del Telescopio Solar Europeo está SUSPENDIDA hasta que es el estado de alarma en España sea revocado.

European Solar Telescope

The European Solar Telescope (EST) is a next generation large-aperture solar telescope. This 4-metre telescope will be optimised for studies of the magnetic coupling between the deep photosphere and upper chromosphere. This will require diagnostics of the thermal, dynamic and magnetic properties of the plasma over many scale heights, by using multiple wavelength imaging, spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry. To achieve these goals, the EST will specialize in high spatial and temporal resolution using various instruments simultaneously that can efficiently produce 2D spectral information. EST will be located in Canary Islands, one of the first-class locations for astronomical observations.


Why does this matter?

A consensus exists among solar astronomers worldwide that a significant increase in observing capability is needed to understand the fundamental processes that control plasma physics in the Sun's outer atmosphere, approaching the following key questions as a priority goal:

1. What can the Sun teach us about fundamental astrophysical processes? Observations of the Sun reveal intricate patterns of magnetic fields and the complex dynamics of a stellar atmosphere at the physically relevant spatial scales. 

2. What drives solar variability on all scales? The Sun varies on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, displaying important energetic phenomena over the whole range. We do not fully understand and cannot accurately predict basic aspects of solar variability.

3. What is the impact of solar activity on life on Earth? Solar magnetic activity variations induce terrestrial changes, which can affect millions of humans on short and long time scales. We need to predict disturbances of the space environment, which are induced by the Sun and to understand the links between the solar output and the Earth’s climate.


What is the European added value?

European solar physicists unanimously share the view that a large aperture new generation solar telescope is needed to further understanding of the fundamental processes of plasma physics in the Sun’s upper layers. The construction of a ground-based large aperture solar telescope equipped, with adaptive optics and integral field spectropolarimeters for observing astrophysical processes at their intrinsic scale, would allow interaction between magnetic fields and plasma in the solar atmosphere to be observed.

Building EST will guarantee European Solar Physics access to an essential tool for ground-based solar research that will bring in scientific benefits not only in quantity but also of the highest quality. EST covers the gap as such large-scale telescopes for solar physics do not exist in Europe. It is not only a key reinforcement in the strategy of developing the European research area in this field but also in the development and internationalisation for the Canary Islands' Astrophysics Observatories. Moreover EST will give European industry, which is very well equipped for this type of project, a unique opportunity to make returns on its expertise in the field. 



Meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias

Published: Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Scientists and engineers from the European Solar Telescope participated in FITOC2019, the meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias.

Mary Barreto, EST Technical Director, explains the current status of the EST technical works to FITOC2019 assistants / Photo: IAC

Scientists and engineers from the European Solar Telescope have participated in FITOC2019, the meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias. The event was held in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) from 11 to 13 November, and gathered more than 80 international experts. 

Mary Barreto, EST Technical Director, was one of the speakers. Barreto gave an update on EST ongoing work, which at this point focuses mainly on the design and construction plan, and the site selection. Barreto also emphasized the international aspect of this project, in which 26 European research institutions are involved, "making EST a truly European venture".

The day before, EST engineer Icíar Montilla, from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, had presented the main projects on adaptive optics being developed by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, including the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system (MCAO) for EST, designed to correct the turbulence for a wide range of observing elevations, from the zenith down to very near the horizon, providing high spatial resolution observations in the visible over large fields of view. During her talk, she dubbed the MCAO as "one of the most challenging AO systems ever built, with uniform correction over a field of view of 1 arcminute at 500nm running at 2KHz". Earlier, EST researcher Dan Kiselman, from the Institute for Solar Physics (Stockholm University), called the Swedish Solar Telescope "a trailblazer for EST", and listed the lessons learnt from this telescope, one of EST's older sisters together with THEMIS and GREGOR.

The objective of the meeting was to examine the plans for existing and future instrumentation installed in the Canary Island observatories, whether for night observations, including infrared and high energy astrophysics, or solar physics. Key issues for discussions were the future scientific direction of the observatories, possible "blind spots" and overlaps between instrumentation, synergies between current and prospective facilities, and the specific observational strengths of Observatorios de Canarias. 

For more information, check out the meeting website at



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