The SolarLab is a peculiar telescopic installation owned by the IAC, that contains a total of six instruments which operate continuously (on a daily basis and in some cases for more than 25 years) over day and night-time and with a unique and precise scientific observing program. The owners of the instruments are different but the IAC researchers are responsible for their operation and actively participate in their scientific exploitation through the different established consortia. The primary objective is the study of the Sun's interior through the unique tools provided by Helioseismology. In recent years, the scientific scope was extended by the incorporation of instruments devoted to Asteroseismology, Planetary transits and Earthshine monitoring.
An audiovisual about the telescope installation is available here.
The "Solarlab" name, refers to two different telescopic installations: the "van der Raay" Pyramid and the Annex Building which contain the instruments (Pyramid) or serve as a control operation centre for those located in the surroundings (annex Building).
The IAC's Helioseismology group is one of the pioneer groups in this scientific domain and already in 1979 participated with colleagues (the University of Birmigham) in the key discovery that allowed the fast development of Helioseismology: the discovery of the global nature of the 5-minute solar oscillations and therefore their identification as the "Sun's eigenmodes". The first instrument ("Mark-I resonant scattering solar spectrophotometer of the Birmingham University) was installed at the OT in 1976. Since then, this instrument has been successfully running and providing unique information on the sensitivity of helioseismic parameters (eigenmodes frequencies, energy, width, rotational splitting,...) with Solar Activity Cycle (11 year period).
In 1981, the "Network" concept (i.e. combining data from similar instruments located in complementary geographical locations to obtain 24 hours continuous solar measurements) was proved for the first time to be successful when data from Mark-I instrument at OT and a similar instrument in Haleakala were combined. Since then, many "Helioseismology Networks" have been deployed around the world and all of them have one of their "nodes" at the "SolarLab". Therefore, since 1983, the observations at the SolarLab are performed in a continuous and uninterrupted way, thus providing a unique set of data available to the scientific community involved.
MARK-I: Full disk resonant scattering spectrometer providing radial velocity measurements of the Sun at the Potassium KI 769.9 nm line. It belongs to the HIROS (High Resolution Spectroscopy) group of the School of Astronomy and Physics of the University of Birmingham. Since 1993, it constitutes one the "nodes" of the BiSON (Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network). The others are located in Australia (2), Chile, California (USA) and South Africa.
GONG-T: Modified Michelson interferometer (Fourier Tachometer) providing high resolution solar images of intensity, radial velocity and magnetograms at Niquel NI 676.8 nm line. It is a node of the NSO (National Solar Observatory) project named GONG (Global Oscillations Network Group) which began observations in 1996 and with the other nodes located at Chile, California (USA), Hawaii, Australia and India.
ECHO-T: Intermediate resolution resonant scattering spectrophotometer providing radial velocity and intensity solar maps at the Potassium KI 769.9 nm line. It is one of the two nodes of the ECHO (Experiment for Coordinated Heliseismic Observations) project of the HAO (High Altitude Observatory). The other node is located at Haleakala (Hawaii).
TON+: Earthshine and stellar photometer prototype for the TEN (Taiwan Earthshine Network) project conducted by the Institute of Astronomy, NationalTsing Hua University, which is the successor of TON (Taiwan Oscillation Network) initiative operated from 1996 to 2002 with four nodes: Tenerife, California, Uzbekistan and China.
TELAST: Stellar photometer devoted to IAC's Asteroseismology programs. During 2005 robotic and automatic operation in a continuous way will take place.
PASS: Wide field stellar photometer to detect planetary transist. This IAC project (Permanent All Sky Survey) in its preliminary development phase.
Stellar photometer EAST
Precise measurements of low and intermediate degree (l) acoustic solar eigenmodes (few parts in 104) and their spectral parameters, to infer the dynamical structure (density and sound speed stratification) and the rotation profile down to 0.2 solar radius.
Detailed calculations on subsurface flows by means of measurement of high degree() solar acoustic modes and the use of local helioseismolgy techniques (time-distance).
Study of the thermodynamics of the solar photosphere by comparing the phase and amplitudes of solar acoustic eigenmodes simultaneously observed as radial velocity and luminosity fluctuations.
The correlation between the solar acoustic modes spectrum variation and the phase of the Solar Activity Cycle, providing new insights to understanding the origin and evolution of solar dynamo.
To develop and test new concept instrumentation (GOLF-NG) which will help to better understand the "Solar Background Spectrum": the ultimate limit to detect the solar gravity eigenmodes.
To improve the quality, amount and duty cycle of present intermediate and high degree heiloseismic data in order to perform more precise inversions around the "tachocline" solar layer (the interface layer between the radiative core and the convective envelope).