Carmenes instrument discovers its first exoplanet through the Calar Alto Observatory

silent high
Calar Alto Observatory.

The project CARMENES, driven by a consortium of eleven German and Spanish institutions and co-led by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), He has discovered its first planet outside our solar system from the telescope 3,5 meters from the Calar Alto Observatory in Almeria, under the CSIC and the Max Planck Society. Details of the discovery are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters.

The instrument has been a very close dwarf star and half massive than the Sun., around which orbits a planet named HD 147379 b, slightly more massive than Neptune. This exoplanet completes its orbit every eighty-six days at a distance that is only one-third of which separates Tierra del Sol. The planet is, therefore, within the habitability area called, namely, the region around a star where conditions permit the existence of liquid water.

"It is unlikely that life could have evolved on this planet because it probably lacks solid surface", explains Ignasi Ribas, CSIC researcher at the Institute of Space Sciences. He adds: "The exoplanet, similar a Neptuno, orbiting in the habitable zone of a nearby star, It is not the most spectacular, but it is the first. We face a future of observations, clearly, They will bear fruit ".


The discovery confirms the efficiency of CARMENES as an instrument designed to search for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone. "False positives are common in the search for extrasolar planets, And here emerges one of the strengths of CARMENES: observing in the visible and infrared we can confirm the findings without further checks. No other instrument can do this”, says Peter J. beloved, CSIC researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia and co-principal investigator of the project.

CARMENES is a unique instrument in the world also because it will detect speed variations in the movement of stars located at a great distance with an accuracy of one meter per second.

The instrument has been developed by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. In Spain participating in the project, which will last at least until 2020, the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (CSIC), who co-leads the project and has developed the infrared channel, the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC), the Complutense University of Madrid, the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and the Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA). It has received funding from the Max-Planck Society, CSIC, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Regional Government of Andalusia, inter alia.