La Silla – ESO 1m

On 2011, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) Telescopio de 1mt de la Sillasigned an agreement about the use of the La Silla 1m telescope (LSOM) at the La Silla Observatory. According to this document, ESO accepted to perform general maintenance of the building and the mirrors, and to commit this facility for exclusive use of UCN. LSOM will be remotely operated from the UCN campus in Antofagasta, and visits to the La Silla Mountain will be restricted to routine telescope maintenance.

LSOM is a key facility for our institution. In fact, while all astronomers in Chile have access to international facilities in the country, very few institutions can take advantage of the exclusive use of a 1m-class telescope. This offers our members the unique opportunity of performing extensive monitoring programs, and to execute fast-response observations, bypassing the slow biannual process of proposal review and time allocation by a committee. This telescope cannot compete with modern 8m-class telescopes on the study of single objects, but it can be efficiently used for extensive programs of surveying and monitoring, prohibitive at other facilities due to the large amount of time they require.

This facility is also a unique opportunity for our students, who can learn the observational strategies and the techniques to operate a professional telescope, directly at the University campus.

UCN and the Pontifica Universidad Católica (PUC) are installing at LSOM the high resolution spectrograph FIDEOS (Fiber Dual Echelle Optical Spectrograph). FIDEOS works at the optical range (400-750nm) and has an spectral resolution of approximately 40,000. The main science goal of the instrument is to measure precise Radial Velocity (~ 5 m/s) with the aim of detecting exoplanets. Currently, the telescope control system (TCS) is operational at LSOM and the FIDEOS spectrograph has been installed. It is expected to have first light observations during June 2016. UCN and PUC are preparing an agreement.

The LSOM telescope has an interface to attach FIDEOS and a CCD camera. It is also expected to have a standard CCD camera attached to the interface of LSOM during 2017. Considering the optics of the interfase, the CCD camera will have a field of 7′ x 7′. It is planned to perform several science cases using this new camera.

For more information, contact us.