The Carlos Sánchez Telescope (TCS), installed at the Observatorio del Teide (OT), has a primary mirror diameter of 1.52 m. The TCS was designed and constructed under the direction of Prof. J. Ring (ICSTM), in collaboration with other groups from the United Kingdom and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). Operative since 1972, originally it was designed as an infrared flux collector, being one of the first thin mirror telescopes. TCS is owned by the IAC since 1982, the year in which it was transferred by the SERC (Science and Engineering Research Council), the original owner of the telescope.
This telescope is focussed on night time observations in the infrared range. Surprisingly, in spite of its low cost, at present it is still among the largest and most productive infrared telescopes in the world. Moreover, the TCS has been used as a test bed to acquire the necessary experience to tackle the construction of large telescopes.
An audiovisual about the telescope is available here.
The name of the telescope was adopted in honour of Prof. Carlos Sánchez Magro, Astrophysics Professor at the University of La Laguna, Prof. Carlos Sánchez was a very distinguished member of IAC since its origins. He was born in Valladolid in 1944 and died in Tenerife in 1985, unfortunately only 6 days after the solemn inauguration of the IAC´s facilities and observatories. He was a tireless promoter of Infrared Astronomy and Astronomy teaching.
The TCS´s main mirror is fixed in an equatorial structure, with a Cassegrain focus and F/13.8 in a Dall-Kirkham type configuration. It has an effective focal distance of 21.03 m. Its common user-instrumentation includes two state-of-the-art near infrared instruments. Both instruments have been developed and built at the IAC with the specific strength of the telescope and observing site in mind.
The IR camera, CAIN, consists of a mosaic of 256x256 HgCdTe photoelectric elements with sensibility in the 1-2.5 micron range. It has two different optical devices. One of them, narrow, corresponds to 0.39 arcsec/pixel and a field of view equivalent to 100x100 arcseconds. The other, wide, with 1.00 arcsecond/pixel and a field of view of 256x256 arcseconds. The available filters cover the whole range in which the instrument is sensitive. The limiting magnitude is around 17.
The new infrared photometer, FIN, offers unique skills in the northern hemisphere, being one of the few astronomical photometers available at present. FIN is a fast and precise photometer with an InSb detector for observations of point like objects in the range from 1 to 5 microns. After three years of instrumental development, it was finally installed in 2004. The software has been developed using object oriented programming techniques.
As a complement to these two instruments, SCIDAR (SCIntillation Device And Ranging) is regularly set up to measure the intensity of the atmospheric turbulence and its dependency on altitude.
The TCS is suitable to observe "cold" objects, like stars in the first or last stages of their evolution. Some of the first infrared images of the impact of the P/ Shoemaker-Levy9 comet on Jupiter and some images of sub-stellar objects like G196-3B, were obtained with it. Sometimes, the TCS operates together with other telescopes, mainly in the OT (OGS and IAC80), for complementary observations in different wavelengths or for investigations of the atmospheric structure.
The TCS has been used for a wide range of infrared observational programmes, from large-scale Galactic Centre mapping to stellar oscillations. Altogether, the TCS has generated almost 250 refereed papers in international journals.
Some examples of results are:
1) The creation of a catalogue of galaxies with stellar formation in the H band of emission -first of this type- that includes 70 of such objects. This project has required an immense amount of observing time.
2) Photometry of asteroid 2002 NY40, that rapidly crossed the sky at a distance from the Earth of only 750,000 km.
A photometric study of the Orionis Sigma clusters in R, I and J bands with the Carlos Sánchez, OGS and IAC80 telescopes, identifying 50 low mass stars and brown dwarf candidates.