Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad Gobierno de Canarias Universidad de La Laguna CSIC Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

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ARES: High Spectral Resolution (P/301701)


Rafael Rebolo López, Carlos Allende Prieto, Enric Pallé Bagó, María Jesús Martínez González, Borja Toledo Padrón, David Sánchez Aguado

 IAC Collaborators: Fabio Tenegi Sanginés, Víctor J. Sánchez Béjar, Ana Belén Fragoso López, Manuel Amate Plasencia, Félix Gracia Temich, José Luis Rasilla Piñeiro, Romano L.M. Corradi, Roberto Manuel Luis Simoes, Luis Fernando Rodríguez Ramos

Francesco Pepe (UniGE), Gaspare Lo Curto (ESO), Alejandro Suárez Mascareño (UniGE),; Paolo Molaro (INAF), Christophe Lovis (UniGE), Maria Rosa Zapatero (CAB-INTA),; Alessandro Marconi (INAF), Roberto Maiolino (UniCA), Didier Queloz (UniCA),; Samantha Thompson (UniCA), Martin Fisher (UniCA),; Samuel Santana Tschudi (ESO), Luca Pasquini (ESO), Rafael Probst (MPQ),; Piercarlo Bonifacio (OBSPM), Elisabetta Caffau (OBSPM), Hans Ludwig (ZAH),; Mathias Steffen (AIP), Nuno Santos (CAUP), Pedro Figueira (CAUP)


ARES (High Spectral Resolution) is a coordinated project which attempt to join and consolidate the efforts on instrument developments at high spectral resolution within the IAC. The goal is to launch the scientific programs that the IAC carries out on the search and characterization of exoplanets, in particular Earth-like exoplanets, on the evolution of the stellar populations of our Galaxy and on the field of cosmology and fundamental physics using high-resolution ultra-stable spectroscopy.

The ARES project joins specific actions of great impact in the design and development of instrumentation of new generation for astronomical telescope facilities in the 

European Southern Observatory (ESO), the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos, and the observatorio de Calar Alto: ESPRESSO@8.2m-VLT, HORS@10.4m-GTC, HARPS3@2.5m-INT, NIRPS@3.6m-ESO, HIRES@39m-ELT, CARMENES@3.5m-CalarAlto, and HRS@10.4m-GTC.


Fig. 1: Schematic view of the four 8.2 m Unit Telescopes of the VLT (multi-UT mode) feeding, through the Coudé train, the front-end unit of the ESPRESSO spectrograph, located in the Combined Coudé Laboratory (González Hernández et al. 2017).

The project ARES will allow to carry out technical actions and will provide access to the guaranteed scientific exploitation in:

(a) ESPRESSO: will allow, among other scientific cases, the detection and characterization of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around nearby GKM stars of the Southern hemisphere.


  Fig. 2: Schematic view of the Combined Coudé Laboratory where ESPRESSO spectrograph will be located inside the vacuum vessel and several thermal enclosures in a multi-shell control system (González Hernández et al. 2017).

ESPRESSO is the new high-resolution, ultra-stable spectrograph installed at the Coudé Laboratory using a combined Coudé focus of the 8.2m-VLT Unit Telescopes (UTs), and will be able to operate with one or (simultaneously) several of the four UTs.



  Fig. 3: Opto-mechanics of the ESPRESSO spectrograph (González Hernández et al. 2017). First light of the instrument with one UT (see IAC press release - ESO press release) has been done at the end of November 2017 and with the four UTs (see IAC press release - and ESO press release) at the beginning of February 2018. The instrument is expected to start operations in October 2018.


  Fig. 4: Image with the first spectroscopic data of a star observed in the first light of the ESPRESSO instrument (Credit: ESO. See IAC press release - ESO press release).

(b) HORS: will characterize the chemistry of the stars of the Milky Way (see IAC press release). The HORS instrument saw the first light in May 2015 (see IAC press release). Several improvements are being performed in several optical components with the aim of carrying out more observing tests at the GTC during 2017. 

(c) NIRPS: will be particularly efficient in the detection and characterization of low-mass planets orbiting M-dwarf stars in the southern hemisphere. The IAC is developing the design of fiber link (see ESO press release).


  Fig. 5: Vacuum vessel and opto-mechanics of the NIRPSspectrograph (Bouchy et al. 2017).

(d) HARPS3: will focus on star-planet systems similar to the Sun-Earth system. The IAC is carrying out the design of the thermal enclosures of the spectrograph. 

(e) HIRES: will study, among other scientific cases, the atmospheres of exoplanets from Neptunes to Earths, including those in habitable zone, with the aim of detecting signs of life on rocky planets. The IAC is participating in the phase A of the design of the visible arm of this spectrograph and the fiber link of the instrument.

(f) CARMENES: will search for low-mass planets orbiting M dwarfs in the northern hemisphere, with the aim of finding Earth-like planets in the habitable zone.

(g) HRS: will search for rocky planets in the habitable zone in the northern hemisphere. The IAC is following closely the development of the high-resolution spectrograph and high-stability for the GTC telescope envisaged for the coming years.


- The participation of the IAC in the ESPRESSO consortium for the design and development of the ESPRESSO ultra-stable spectrograph has been carried out successfully (Pepe et al., 2014, AN, 335, 8; González Hernández et al., 2017, arXiv: 1711.05250).

During the first part of the year 2017 the ESPRESSO consortium has carried out with success the preliminary acceptance in Europe (PAE) of the instrument by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and during the summer and autumn 2017 the installation of the instrument has been carried out in the combined Coudé laboratory with the 8.2m-VLT telescopes at the Paranal Observatory (ESO, Chile).

The first light of the instrument with a Telescope Unit (UT) was carried out successfully at the end of November 2017 (see ESO press release - IAC press release) and with the four UTs at the beginning of February 2018 (see ESO press release - IAC press release). The instrument will begin operations at ESO in October 2018.

- The IAC has continued to participate in the development of the laser frequency comb (LFC) coupled to the HARPS ultra-stable spectrograph (see IAC press release), where a short-term repeatability of 2.5 cm / s has been demonstrated (Wilken et al., 2012, Nature, 485, 611), reaching approximately 1 cm / s in the most recent calibration tests (Probst et al., 2016 , SPIE, 9908, 64). The LFC coupled to HARPS in the 3.6m-ESO telescope will begin operations at ESO in October 2018.

- The NIRPS consortium has finalized the final design phase (FDR) of the NIRPS spectrograph (see ESO press release). In particular, the IAC successfully completed the FDR phase of the fiber bundle for the NIRPS spectrograph in November 2017, and started the construction phase (Bouchy et al., 2017, The Messenger, 169, 21, Wildi et al., 2017). SPIE, 10400).

- The IAC has contributed to phase A conceptual design and scientific cases of the HIRES spectrograph carried out successfully in the last quarter of 2017.

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