The CAB signs the agreement for the participation in HARMONI
27-06-2016

The participation agreement of the Center for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC-INTA) in the design and construction of HARMONI -High Angular Resolution Monolithic Optical and Near-infrared Integral field spectrograph- has been recently signed. It is one of the first instruments to be installed in the E-ELT - Europe Extreme Large Telescope - the largest optical telescope ever built. Therefore, the CAB will be part of one of the most relevant projects of Astrophysics in the coming decades.

From the 2007, when the original HARMONI proposal was conceived, the CAB team is part of an international consortium led by the University of Oxford , which also includes the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands , the UK Astronomy Technology Center Edinburgh , Center de Recherche Astrophysique Lyon and the Laboratoire d'Astrophysuque de Marseille . Thanks to the signed agreement, the CAB researchers will use the E-ELT together with HARMONI as soon as the telescope comes into operation in 2024. "To release the E-ELT and carry out the first scientific projects with HARMONI will allow the CAB to be in the vanguard of research in Astrophysics. In addition, it is a highly relevant technological project that we will execute in collaboration with the Spanish R & D industry ", says Santiago Arribas Mocoroa , research professor at the CSIC and Principal Investigator in the CAB of the project .

The E-ELT project, led by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) , is, according to Arribas, "a challenge, because it is designed to work with an adaptive optics system that, using very powerful lasers, will correct the loss of sharpness caused by the effect of the atmosphere. The combination of this system and the primary mirror, about 40 meters in diameter, is a huge improvement over current telescopes, "says this astrophysicist on the largest telescope in the world, which will be located in Cerro Armazones (Chile ) .

Regarding the instrument in particular, the scientists involved in its development emphasize that HARMONI will obtain simultaneously 32000 spectra on a Two-dimensional region, thus allowing to characterize the physical, chemical and kinematic properties of extensive astronomical objects, such as galaxies and nebulae. "HARMONI, as it is conceived, is very versatile. In addition to having visible capacity, the optimal wavelength range will be infrared, where the adaptive optics system allows for better corrections, "says Javier Piqueras López , researcher and technical project manager in CAB, and adds that telescope and instrument "will allow us to overcome" the current limits of knowledge in most fields of Astrophysics. And is that E-ELT and HAMONI will not only address many of the most controversial issues of current astrophysics, but also explore, for the first time, new fields of research. Among its scientific objectives are the direct study of exoplanets or the formation of the first galaxies.


Subsystems of HARMONI

In addition to its scientific contribution, the CAB is responsible for the design and construction of two of the HARMONI subsystems - the calibration subsystem and the secondary guidance sub-system, an activity that will be developed with the support of the Spanish industry. On the one hand, the calibration subsystem will eliminate the signal produced by external elements (atmosphere, telescope, instrument), which can mask and distort the signal of celestial objects. In addition, it will allow to control the correct functioning of the instrument once in operation.

On the other hand, the secondary guidance subsystem "also goes to be fundamental during the observations, "says Piqueras. The E-ELT is designed to achieve very high angle resolutions that require high pointing accuracy. Thanks to this subsystem, small movements and relative vibrations between the instrument and the telescope that can prevent reaching that level of expected precision will be corrected.


Repercussion in media:
  • Aerospace Update , INTA .

     

    Fuente: UCC-CAB

     

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