Thirty Meter Telescope
The Thirty Metre Telescope is due to be built on the Big Island in Hawaii

China and India have signed up to take part in the construction of the world's largest telescope, which will be able to find objects up to 13 billion light years away.

The Thirty Metre Telescope, or TMT, will have a 30 metre-wide optical lens and is over nine times bigger than anything being used today.

It will be built on the Big Island of Hawaii. Its isolated position on top of a volcano makes it ideal for astronomical observations.

The two countries have agreed to pay a share of the $1 billion cost of the telescope, which is to be built at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano and is expected to be completed in 2018. Japan is also a partner in the project.

"This will represent a quantum leap for the Chinese community," said Shude Mao, professor of astrophysics at the National Astronomical Observatories of China in Beijing.

Mao said the project represented an opportunity for Chinese scientists to increase the scale of their ambitions as they study the origin of planets, black holes and dark matter.

TMT is unlikely to be the largest telescope for long, however, as the European Extremely Large Telescope will surpass it in size and power after it is constructed in Chile's Atacama Desert.