A worker gazes up at the steel structure housing the GTC's mirrors. The observatory's primary mirror was completed in April 2009, and a team from the University of Florida made some of the first scientific observations with the telescope in May.
Astronomer Eric Ford and colleagues used the GTC to study a star known to have an orbiting planet about the size of Jupiter. The team hopes analysis of the data will help scientists understand how planets contract in size as their stars age.
Overall, project managers hope the new telescope will be instrumental in studying the early universe and the births and deaths of galaxies, stars, and planets, as well as in discovering new planets outside our solar system.