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The Space Telescope Science Institute installs the telescope XO at the Montsec Astronomical Observatory (OAdM)
05/12/2012
 
The telescope is part of the XO Project, which aims to find giant exoplanets around bright stars

The OADM site was chosen to cover several geographical longitudes and thus monitor for very long periods of time candidates for exoplanets

Barcelona – 04.12.2012

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), institute that manages the scientific operations of the Hubble telescope, has chosen Montsec Astronomical Observatory site to install the instrument XO, a telescope aimed at searching for extrasolar planets around bright stars, using the transit method.

The XO project arose from collaboration between STScI scientists and several institutions worldwide, including the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and, most recently, the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC ) and the Astronomical Observatory of Catalonia Esteve Duran Foundation (FOED).

Since the installation of the first telescope in Hawaii in 2003, the primary objective of the project XO is not only to search and detect giant exoplanets, but also a better understand these planets through the measurements of their masses and diameters.

The instrument basically consists of two EF200 Canon lenses of 200 mm of focal length and, so far, it has been able to detect five new extrasolar planets, since the first prototype was made nearly a decade ago. In the era of large telescopes, it is curious that the search for extrasolar planets is done with small installations like XO, that are highly specialized and efficient.

In order to cover various longitudes to observe objects as continuously as possible, the STScI installed in July of 2012 a telescope at the Observatory del Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands. A second unit of XO has been installed at the end of November at the Montsec, since it is a region that has a very low light contamination as well as favorable weather conditions, which makes the OADM an excellent place to carry out this project.

The deployment of the XO telescope at the OADM, conducted by a team of engineers and scientists from the STScI, started on 26 November with completion scheduled for Friday, November 30. The telescope has started taking images once the phase of installation and commissioning of the instrument were complete.

Other Instruments at the OAdM

The Montsec Astronomical Observatory (OADM) is located at an altitude of 1570m on the Montsec range , about 50 kilometers south of the central Pyrenees and 50 kilometers north of the city of Lleida, Catalonia.

The Observatory hosts the telescope Joan Oró (TJO-OADM) of 0.8 m in diameter, which works under a completely robotic control. The characteristics of the telescope and its size make it a unique instrument compared to other telescopes currently in operation.

The telescope is equipped with two instruments: Meià (Efficient Medium-Format Imager for Astronomy) and ARES (Astronomical mid-Resolution Spectrograph). ARES and Meià are engaged in collecting photometric and spectroscopic data, respectively

The OADM hosts other scientific facilities apart from the Joan Oró telescope. Those are:
• The Fabra-ROA Telescope Montsec (TFRM), from the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Royal Observatory of the Navy.
• An all-sky camera for the detection of meteors and fireballs.
• A station to measure the air pollution, from the Department of Environment of the Generalitat of Catalonia.
• A station of the Catalonia Meteorological Service (SMC Government of Catalonia), a catalan node for weather information.

Contact Information

IGNASI RIBAS
Institut de Ciències de l’Espai, ICE (CSIC/IEEC)
Email: ribas@ieec.cat
Tel: +34.93.581.43.71

ENRIQUE GARCÍA-MELENDO
Fundació Observatori Astronòmic de Catalunya Esteve Duran (FOED)
Email. egm@ice.cat, duranobs@astrogea.org

FRANCESC VILARDELL
Institut d’Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (IEEC)
Email. vilardell@ieec.cat
Tel. +34 93 586 87 83
 
Attached Documents
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya