The design and construction of CARMENES has been presented at previous SPIE conferences. It is a next-generation radial-velocity instrument at the 3.5m telescope of the Calar Alto Observatory, which was built by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. CARMENES consists of two separate échelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.71μm at a spec-tral resolution of R < 80,000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. CARMENES saw “First Light” on Nov 9, 2015.
During the commissioning and initial operation phases, we established basic performance data such as throughput and spectral resolution. We found that our hollow-cathode lamps are suitable for precise wavelength calibration, but their spectra contain a number of lines of neon or argon that are so bright that the lamps cannot be used in simultaneous exposures with stars. We have therefore adopted a calibration procedure that uses simultaneous star / Fabry Pérot etalon exposures in combination with a cross-calibration between the etalons and hollow-cathode lamps during daytime. With this strategy it has been possible to achieve 1-2 m/s precision in the visible and 5-10 m/s precision in the near-IR; further improvements are expected from ongoing work on temperature control, calibration procedures and data reduction. Comparing the RV precision achieved in different wavelength bands, we find a “sweet spot” between 0.7 and 0.8μm, where deep TiO bands provide rich RV information in mid-M dwarfs. This is in contrast to our pre-survey models, which predicted comparatively better performance in the near-IR around 1μm, and explains in part why our near-IR RVs do not reach the same precision level as those taken with the visible spectrograph.
We are now conducting a large survey of 340 nearby M dwarfs (with an average distance of only 12pc), with the goal of finding terrestrial planets in their habitable zones. We have detected the signatures of several previously known or suspected planets and also discovered several new planets. We find that the radial velocity periodograms of many M dwarfs show several significant peaks. The development of robust methods to distinguish planet signatures from activity-induced radial velocity jitter is therefore among our priorities.
Due to its large wavelength coverage, the CARMENES survey is generating a unique data set for studies of M star atmospheres, rotation, and activity. The spectra cover important diagnostic lines for activity (H alpha, Na I D1 and D2, and the Ca II infrared triplet), as well as FeH lines, from which the magnetic field can be inferred. Correlating the time series of these features with each other, and with wavelength-dependent radial velocities, provides excellent handles for the discrimination between planetary companions and stellar radial velocity jitter. These data are also generating new insight into the physical properties of M dwarf atmospheres, and the impact of activity and flares on the habitability of M star planets.
After 5 years of operation on the VLT, a large upgrade of CRIRES (the ESO Cryogenic InfraRed Echelle Spectrograph) was decided mainly in order to increase the efficiency. Using a cross dispersion design allows better wavelength coverage per exposure. This means a complete re-design of the cryogenic pre-optic which were including a predispersion stage with a large prism as dispersive element. The new design requires a move of the entrance slit and associated decker toward the first intermediate focal plane right behind the window. Implement 2 functions with high positioning accuracy in a pre-defined and limited space was a real challenge. The design and the test results recorded in the ESO Cryogenic Test Facility are reported in this paper. The second critical function is the grating wheel which positions the 6 cross disperser gratings into the beam. The paper describes the design of the mechanism which includes a detente system in order to guaranty the 5 arc sec positioning reproducibility requested. The design includes also feedback system, based on switches, in order to ensure that the right grating is in position before starting a long exposure. The paper reports on the tests carried out at cryogenic temperature at the sub-system level. It also includes early performances recorded in the instrument along the first phases of the system test.
The CARMENES instrument is a pair of high-resolution (R⪆80,000) spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.71 μm, optimized for precise radial velocity measurements. It was installed and commissioned at the 3.5m telescope of the Calar Alto observatory in Southern Spain in 2015. The first large science program of CARMENES is a survey of ~ 300 M dwarfs, which started on Jan 1, 2016. We present an overview of all subsystems of CARMENES (front end, fiber system, visible-light spectrograph, near-infrared spectrograph, calibration units, etalons, facility control, interlock system, instrument control system, data reduction pipeline, data flow, and archive), and give an overview of the assembly, integration, verification, and commissioning phases of the project. We show initial results and discuss further plans for the scientific use of CARMENES.
<i>Theia</i> is a logical successor to Gaia, as a focused, very high precision astrometry mission which addresses two key
science objectives of the ESA Cosmic Vision program: the nature of dark matter and the search for habitable
planets. <i>Theia</i> addresses a number of other science cases strongly synergistic with ongoing/planned missions,
such as the nature of compact objects, motions of stars in young stellar clusters, follow-up of Gaia objects
of interest. <i>Theia s "point and stare"</i> operational mode will enable us to answer some of the most profound
questions that the results of the Gaias survey will ask. Extremely-high-precision astrometry at 1-μas level can
only be reached from space. The <i>Theia</i> spacecraft, which will carry a 0.8-m telescope, is foreseen to operate
at L2 for 3,5 years. The preliminary <i>Theia</i> mission assessment allowed us to identify a safe and robust mission
architecture that demonstrates the mission feasibility within the Soyuz ST launch envelope and a small M-class
mission cost cap. We present here these features of the mission that has been submitted to the last ESA M4 call
in January 2015.
CRIRES at the VLT is one of the few adaptive optics enabled instruments that offer a resolving power of 10<sup>5</sup> from 1 − 5 μm. An instrument upgrade (CRIRES+) is proposed to implement cross-dispersion capabilities, spectro-polarimetry modes, a new detector mosaic, and a new gas absorption cell. CRIRES+ will boost the simultaneous wavelength coverage of the current instrument (~ γ/70 in a single-order) by a factor of 10 in the cross-dispersed configuration, while still retaining a ~> 10 arcsec slit suitable for long-slit spectroscopy. CRIRES+ dramatically enhances the instrument’s observing efficiency, and opens new scientific opportunities. These include high-precision radial-velocity studies on the 3 m/s level to characterize extra-solar planets and their athmospheres, which demand for specialized, highly accurate wavelength calibration techniques. In this paper, we present a newly developed absorption gas-cell to enable high-precision wavelength calibration for CRIRES+. We also discuss the strategies and developments to cover the full operational spectral range (1 − 5 μµm), employing cathode emission lamps, Fabry-Perot etalons, and absorption gas-cells.
The CRIRES infrared spectrograph at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT)
facility will soon receive an upgrade. This upgrade will include the addition of a module for performing highresolution
spectropolarimetry. The polarimetry module will incorporate a novel infrared beamsplitter based on
polarization gratings (PGs). The beamsplitter produces a pair of infrared output beams, with opposite circular
polarizations, which are then fed into the spectrograph. Visible light passes through the module virtually
unaltered and is then available for use by the CRIRES adaptive optics system. We present the design of the
polarimetry module and measurements of PG behavior in the 1 to 2.7 μm wavelength range.
CRIRES, the ESO high resolution infrared spectrometer, is a unique instrument which allows astronomers to access a
parameter space which up to now was largely uncharted. In its current setup, it consists of a single-order spectrograph
providing long-slit, single-order spectroscopy with resolving power up to R=100,000 over a quite narrow spectral range.
This has resulted in sub-optimal efficiency and use of telescope time for all the scientific programs requiring broad
spectral coverage of compact objects (e.g. chemical abundances of stars and intergalactic medium, search and
characterization of extra-solar planets). To overcome these limitations, a consortium was set-up for upgrading CRIRES
to a cross-dispersed spectrometer, called CRIRES+. This paper presents the updated optical design of the cross-dispersion
module for CRIRES+. This new module can be mounted in place of the current pre-disperser unit. The new
system yields a factor of >10 increase in simultaneous spectral coverage and maintains a quite long slit (10”), ideal for
observations of extended sources and for precise sky-background subtraction.
CRIRES is one of the few IR (0.92-5.2 μm) high-resolution spectrographs in operation at the VLT since 2006. Despite
good performance it suffers a limitation that significantly hampers its ability: a small spectral coverage per exposure. The
CRIRES upgrade (CRIRES+) proposes to transform CRIRES into a cross-dispersed spectrograph while maintaining the
high resolution (100000) and increasing the wavelength coverage by a factor 10 compared to the current capabilities. A
major part of the upgrade is the exchange of the actual cryogenic pre-disperser module by a new cross disperser unit. In
addition to a completely new optical design, a number of important changes are required on key components and
functions like the slit unit and detectors units. We will outline the design of these new units fitting inside a predefined
and restricted space. The mechanical design of the new functions including a description and analysis will be presented.
Finally we will present the strategy for the implementation of the changes.
This paper gives an overview of the CARMENES instrument and of the survey that will be carried out with it
during the first years of operation. CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths
with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation radial-velocity instrument
under construction for the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory by a consortium of eleven Spanish
and German institutions. The scientific goal of the project is conducting a 600-night exoplanet survey targeting
~ 300 M dwarfs with the completed instrument.
The CARMENES instrument consists of two separate echelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range
from 0.55 to 1.7 μm at a spectral resolution of R = 82,000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope.
The spectrographs are housed in vacuum tanks providing the temperature-stabilized environments necessary to
enable a 1 m/s radial velocity precision employing a simultaneous calibration with an emission-line lamp or with
a Fabry-Perot etalon. For mid-M to late-M spectral types, the wavelength range around 1.0 μm (Y band) is the
most important wavelength region for radial velocity work. Therefore, the efficiency of CARMENES has been
optimized in this range.
The CARMENES instrument consists of two spectrographs, one equipped with a 4k x 4k pixel CCD for
the range 0.55 - 1.05 μm, and one with two 2k x 2k pixel HgCdTe detectors for the range from 0.95 - 1.7μm.
Each spectrograph will be coupled to the 3.5m telescope with two optical fibers, one for the target, and one
for calibration light. The front end contains a dichroic beam splitter and an atmospheric dispersion corrector,
to feed the light into the fibers leading to the spectrographs. Guiding is performed with a separate camera;
on-axis as well as off-axis guiding modes are implemented. Fibers with octagonal cross-section are employed to
ensure good stability of the output in the presence of residual guiding errors. The fibers are continually actuated
to reduce modal noise. The spectrographs are mounted on benches inside vacuum tanks located in the coud´e
laboratory of the 3.5m dome. Each vacuum tank is equipped with a temperature stabilization system capable
of keeping the temperature constant to within ±0.01°C over 24 hours. The visible-light spectrograph will be
operated near room temperature, while the near-IR spectrograph will be cooled to ~ 140 K.
The CARMENES instrument passed its final design review in February 2013. The MAIV phase is currently
ongoing. First tests at the telescope are scheduled for early 2015. Completion of the full instrument is planned
for the fall of 2015. At least 600 useable nights have been allocated at the Calar Alto 3.5m Telescope for the
CARMENES survey in the time frame until 2018.
A data base of M stars (dubbed CARMENCITA) has been compiled from which the CARMENES sample can
be selected. CARMENCITA contains information on all relevant properties of the potential targets. Dedicated imaging, photometric, and spectroscopic observations are underway to provide crucial data on these stars that
are not available in the literature.
High-resolution infrared spectroscopy plays an important role in astrophysics from the search for exoplanets to
cosmology. Yet, many existing infrared spectrographs are limited by a rather small simultaneous wavelength coverage.
The AO assisted CRIRES instrument, installed at the ESO VLT on Paranal, is one of the few IR (0.92-5.2 μm) highresolution
spectrographs in operation since 2006. However it has a limitation that hampers its efficient use: the
wavelength range covered in a single exposure is limited to ~15 nanometers. The CRIRES Upgrade project (CRIRES+)
will transform CRIRES into a cross-dispersed spectrograph and will also add new capabilities. By introducing crossdispersion
elements the simultaneously covered wavelength range will be increased by at least a factor of 10 with respect
to the present configuration, while the operational wavelength range will be preserved. For advanced wavelength
calibration, new custom made absorption gas cells and etalons will be added. A spectro-polarimetric unit will allow one
for the first time to record circularly polarized spectra at the highest spectral resolution. This will be all supported by a
new data reduction software which will allow the community to take full advantage of the new capabilities of CRIRES+.
We have built and commissioned a prototype agitated non-circular core ber scrambler for precision spectroscopic radial velocity measurements in the near-infrared H band. We have collected the rst on-sky performance and modal noise tests of these novel bers in the near-infrared at H and K bands using the CSHELL spectrograph at the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF). We discuss the design behind our novel reverse injection of a red laser for co-alignment of star-light with the ber tip via a corneWe have built and commissioned a prototype agitated non-circular core fiber scrambler for precision spectroscopic radial velocity measurements in the near-infrared H band. We have collected the first on-sky performance and modal noise tests of these novel fibers in the near-infrared at H and K bands using the CSHELL spectrograph at the NASA InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF). We discuss the design behind our novel reverse injection of a red laser for co-alignment of star-light with the fiber tip via a corner cube and visible camera. We summarize the practical details involved in the construction of the fiber scrambler, and the mechanical agitation of the fiber at the telescope. We present radial velocity measurements of a bright standard star taken with and without the fiber scrambler to quantify the relative improvement in the obtainable blaze function stability, the line spread function stability, and the resulting radial velocity precision. We assess the feasibility of applying this illumination stabilization technique to the next generation of near-infrared spectrographs such as iSHELL on IRTF and an upgraded NIRSPEC at Keck. Our results may also be applied in the visible for smaller core diameter fibers where Fiber modal noise is a significant factor, such as behind an adaptive optics system or on a small < 1 meter class telescope such as is being pursued by the MINERVA and LCOGT collaborations.r cube and visible camera. We summarize the practical details involved in the construction of the ber scrambler, and the mechanical agitation of the ber at the telescope. We present radial velocity measurements of a bright standard star taken with and without the ber scrambler to quantify the relative improvement in the obtainable blaze function stability, the line spread function stability, and the resulting radial velocity precision. We assess the feasibility of applying this illumination stabilization technique to the next generation of near-infrared spectrographs such as iSHELL on IRTF and an upgraded NIRSPEC at Keck. Our results may also be applied in the visible for smaller core diameter bers where ber modal noise is a signi cant factor, such as behind an adaptive optics system or on a small < 1 meter class telescope such as is being pursued by the MINERVA and LCOGT collaborations.
We have built and commissioned gas absorption cells for precision spectroscopic radial velocity measurements in the near-infrared in the H and K bands. We describe the construction and installation of three such cells filled with 13CH4, 12CH3D, and 14NH3 for the CSHELL spectrograph at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF). We have obtained their high-resolution laboratory Fourier Transform spectra, which can have other practical uses. We summarize the practical details involved in the construction of the three cells, and the thermal and mechanical control. In all cases, the construction of the cells is very affordable. We are carrying out a pilot survey with the 13CH4 methane gas cell on the CSHELL spectrograph at the IRTF to detect exoplanets around low mass and young stars. We discuss the current status of our survey, with the aim of photon-noise limited radial velocity precision. For adequately bright targets, we are able to probe a noise floor of 7 m/s with the gas cell with CSHELL at cassegrain focus. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of using a gas cell on the next generation of near-infrared spectrographs such as iSHELL on IRTF, iGRINS, and an upgraded NIRSPEC at Keck.
CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with Near-infrared and optical Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation instrument for the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory, built by a consortium of eleven Spanish and German institutions. The CARMENES instrument consists of two separate échelle spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.55 μm to 1.7 μm at a spectral resolution of R = 82, 000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. Both spectrographs are housed in temperature-stabilized vacuum tanks, to enable a long-term 1 m/s radial velocity precision employing a simultaneous calibration with Th-Ne and U-Ne emission line lamps. CARMENES has been optimized for a search for terrestrial planets in the habitable zones (HZs) of low-mass stars, which may well provide our first chance to study environments capable of supporting the development of life outside the Solar System. With its unique combination of optical and near-infrared ´echelle spectrographs, CARMENES will provide better sensitivity for the detection of low-mass planets than any comparable instrument, and a powerful tool for discriminating between genuine planet detections and false positives caused by stellar activity. The CARMENES survey will target 300 M dwarfs in the 2014 to 2018 time frame.