CARMENES as a precursor for HIRES@E-ELT: First results at the telescope

CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs) is the next generation instrument built for the 3.5m telescope at the Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán (Calar Alto Observatory; CAHA, Almería, Spain), which is jointly operated by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Max-Planck-Society (MPG). CARMENES has been built by a large international consortium of 11 institutes in Spain and Germany. It consists of two separate highly-stabilized, high-resolution echelle spectrographs covering both the visible, from 550 to 950 nm, and the near-IR, from 950 to 1700 nm, wavelength ranges with spectral resolution of R=82,000. They are fed by fibres from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope and were designed and built to achieve high-accuracy radial velocities (∼1 m/s) of nearby M-dwarf stars.

This talk overviews the main and unique design characteristics of CARMENES and, in particular, of its near infrared channel, whose manufacturing, integration and commissioning was led by the IAA. The channel MAIV phase was achieved in the last two years (2014-2015) and started commissioning on November 6th 2015. The commissioning phases, both technical and scientific, took six full weeks in the last two months of 2015. They have shown that the channel is well within requirements and performing to be able to achieve its objective, not proven before, of providing radial velocities precisions of 5 m/s, with a goal of 1 m/s. I will provide some insight on the strong aspects of its opto-mechanical and mechanical design and give some results of the performance of the channel at the telescope.

The Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO) programme has started on January 1st, 2016. CARMENES is, therefore, currently conducting a radial-velocity survey of 300 M dwarfs with a precision sufficient for detecting Earth-like planets in their habitable zones. It also is being offered in open time by the CAHA.

A modular design, as that used in CARMENES, is the idea in which HIRES, the next very high-resolution, high-fidelity spectrograph with wide wavelength coverage at the E-ELT, is based on. This EELT instrument will consist of four different high-resolution spectrographs covering the blue, the visible, the near infrared (Y, J and H bands) and the K band. The possible cooling, non-cryogenic, system for the NIR module, which will provide the high thermal stability needed in this instrument, has been developed for CARMENES as a technology demonstrator by a collaboration ESO-IAA.

A proposal to the ESO call for Phase-A studies for a HIRES at the E-ELT was submitted last December by the HIRES consortium. Phase A started two weeks ago.

07/04/2016 - 12:30
Dr. Pedro Amado