The Calar Alto Observatory will search for Earth-like planets

Throughout the month of June there is complete observations of the CALIFA, a sampling that will allow to know the structure and evolution of galaxies with unprecedented detail and which is the international reference for the next decade. At the same time, in the clean rooms of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) is being integrated and tuning CARMENES the instrument to look for planets like ours from Calar Alto.

Both projects, with a strong international character and led by researchers from Granada IAA, are integrated into the international community contribution to the Calar Alto Observatory (CAHA). The presentation was held under the dome of the 3.5-meter telescope of the observatory. This center is the only one in Spain which offers national astronomical community over 180 observing nights per year per telescope.

The event was attended by Francisco Bunting, Secretary General of Universities, Research and Technology of the Government of Andalusia; José Manuel Vilchez, director of the IAA; Jordi Torra, manager Astronomy Network Infrastructure Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness; Jesus Aceituno, Deputy Director of the Observatory of Calar Alto; Enrique Pérez, researcher of the IA and CALIPH, and Pedro J. Amado, research team member main project CARMENES in Spain.

“Paradoxically, the rise of scientific observatory coincides with a period of budget adjustments that respond to circumstances totally unrelated to its excellent performance-stressed Vilchez. Projects as CALIFA or CARMENES demonstrate the robustness of the observatory, the quality of its facilities and instruments and efficiency of its staff. Calar has been one of the main drivers of the Spanish astronomy and must try by all means keep it that way”.

“Despite the cuts we have met our commitments”

Meanwhile, Aceituno has stressed this: “So far, despite the cuts suffered, have managed to meet all our commitments through the efforts of the staff, which has made it possible to have not lost nights of observation”. The Deputy has also claimed the outstanding features of the Centre and of the sky, and the excellence of his instruments. He also advances CAHA future projects with international organizations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Technological Institute InnoFSPEC-AIP Potsdam.

“Here we learned that it was possible to have telescopes like the ones we saw in the books came out. All we have to Calar Alto the fact that Spain is a country in the field of astronomy today”, highlighted Torra. “Calar Alto is one of the observatories has more synergies with other national and international institutions. It also produces quality publications and a wide international recognition”.

“Calar Alto has a future”, added Bunting, besides indicating his future “is the ability to obtain resources, the effectiveness of its staff, the quality of facilities and the commitment of the government to work to resolve Observatory problems”.

A day in Almería delegate of the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science Jobs, Adriana Valverde, President of the Spanish Society of Astronomy, Javier Gorgas, and manage technology-AIP InnoFSPEC Institute Potsdam, Martin Roth, who built the PPAK CALIFA instrument that is done, among others.

CALIFA, 3D spectroscopy to reveal the evolution of galaxies

Galaxies are large groupings of stars, gas and dust, and dark matter. Converting growing know gas in successive generations of stars, as well as larger size achieved by merging smaller. But how to unravel the history of galaxies and understand its diversity?

The samples of galaxies have addressed this question using either shooting, which provides detailed information on galactic structure, or to spectroscopy, which reveals the physical properties of galaxies (composition, temperature, age…) but limit those traits to specific regions or limited sampling only parts of galaxies. And this occurs observational bias.

CALIFA, however, gets a thousand spectra per galaxy, which has allowed us to identify galaxies with a level of detail hitherto inconceivable. It also provides information on the evolution of each galaxy in time: indicates when and how much gas became stars in each stage, and also reveals the evolution of the galaxy in each of their regions over ten billion years.

Finally, CALIFA allows us to extract the history of evolution in mass, brightness and chemical elements from the six hundred galaxies in the sample. This has been found that the most massive galaxies grow faster than the smaller, and also make it inside out, forming the central regions first.

Calar Alto ObservatoryResults have also been obtained on how, within galaxies, occurring chemical elements necessary for life, or the phenomena involved in galactic collisions. We’ve even been able to directly observe the latest generation of stars that was generated and which is still in training their nests. The Califa project is a legacy project, i.e. it has a commitment to release the data and make it available to the entire scientific community, and is considered an international reference for the next decade.

Search ‘exotierras’ with CARMENES

The planets, rotating around its star, produced in her light oscillatory movements which, if measured with the appropriate pressure, reveal the existence of those planets (though we can not see them directly). So CARMENES seek Earth-like planets. It is a unique instrument in the world, in both accuracy and stability, essential qualities to measure small variations in speed that a planet in the stars.

CARMENES is not only the first instrument to Spain proposed to be installed at the Calar Alto Observatory, but also it is a unique instrument in the world, in both accuracy and stability, essential qualities for measuring small changes in speed a planet in the stars. In fact, technology is a stimulating challenge as detect speed variations in the movement of stars located hundreds of billions of kilometers with an accuracy of one meter per second.

To achieve such precision is not only necessary care optical design, but also maintain the highest stability in the operating environment of the instrument, which will work under high vacuum and controlled electronically to the hundredth of a degree temperatures. It is therefore a challenge of the first magnitude for the consortium of construction, which stresses technological participation of Andalusia. CARMENES, which will operate in the 3.5 m telescope of Calar Alto, is a project devised by scientists at the IAA in collaboration with other Spanish and German institutions.


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