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Proposed Facility

Clearly, what we need is big telescopes with high resolution spectrographs, to get good data on QSO absorption-lines. With bigger and better telescopes, you could measure the clustering and 3D distribution of gas in the early universe, by looking at lots of faint QSOs in the same parts of the sky. You could measure the abundances of many elements and learn about the relative importance of different nucleosynthesis processes at different redshifts. With the high resolutions made possible by big telescopes, you could look at the internal velocity structure of the absorbing clouds.

So, you propose that the money be spent on lots of giant ground-based telescopes, fitted out with highly efficient high resolution echelle spectrographs. Another 3 or 4 VLTs should do the trick.

You would also be interested in some telescope to find more QSOs: perhaps a smaller telescope with a wide field multi-colour imager. A space telescope capable of obtaining UV spectra would be good, for looking at QSO absorption systems at low redshifts (for example, the Ly tex2html_wrap_inline92 line disappears into the UV below redshift 1.9).

You anticipate that some of your competitors for this money will propose fancy expensive space-missions to go on wild goose chases after bizarre (and probably undetectable) objects. Your mission is to stop them: you suspect that the best way to do this is to point out to others all the wonderful things that they could do with suitably equipped 8m telescopes.

Paul Francis
Sun Aug 30 11:56:56 EST 1998