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.
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.
With the steadily increasing complexity of scientific instruments, there is an ever-growing demand for improved control electronics. This is especially important for infrared instruments, where the challenging vacuum and cryogenic systems increase the demands on the overall control system. The control electronics must monitor and adjust many different subsystems in different locations, some mounted at the telescope and others placed inside the telescope building. To implement these different demands, a comprehensive Interlock system with process visualization and powerful diagnostics has been developed at the Calar Alto Observatory and the Zentrum für Astronomie Heidelberg (LS
CARMENES is a fiber-fed high-resolution Echelle spectrograph for the Calar Alto 3.5m telescope. The instrument is built by a German-Spanish consortium under the lead of the Landessternwarte Heidelberg. The search for planets around M dwarfs with a radial velocity of 1 m/s is the main focus of the planned science. Two channels, one for the visible, another for the near-infrared, will allow observations in the complete wavelength range from 550 to 1700 nm. To ensure the stability, the instrument is working in vacuum in a thermally controlled environment. The VIS channel spectrograph is covering the visible wavelength range from 0.55 to 0.95 μm with a spectral resolution of R=93,400 in a thermally and pressure-wise very stable environment. The VIS channel spectrograph started science operation in January 2016. Here we present the opto-mechanical and system design of the channel with the focus on the (re-)integration phase at the observatory and the measured performance during the testing and commissioning periods, including the lessons learned.
CARMENES, the new Calar Alto spectrograph especially built for radial-velocity surveys of exoearths around M dwarfs, is a very complicated system. For reaching the goal of 1 m/s radial-velocity accuracy, it is appropriate not only to monitor stars with the best observing procedure, but to monitor also the parameters of the CARMENES subsystems and safely store all the engineer and science data. Here we describe the CARMENES data flow from the different subsystems, through the instrument control system and pipeline, to the virtual-observatory data server and astronomers.
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.
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.
PANIC, the PAnoramic Near-Infrared Camera for Calar Alto, is one of the next generation instruments for this
observatory. In order to cover a field of view of approximately 30 arcmin, PANIC uses a mosaic of four 2k x 2k
HAWAII-2RG arrays from Teledyne. This document presents the preliminary results of the basic characterization of the
mosaic. The performance of the system as a whole, as well as the in-house readout electronics and software capabilities
will also be briefly discussed.
CARMENES (Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earths with Near-infrared and optical
Echelle Spectrographs) is a next-generation instrument to be built for the 3.5m telescope at the Calar Alto
Observatory by a consortium of Spanish and German institutions. Conducting a five-year exoplanet survey
targeting ~ 300 M stars with the completed instrument is an integral part of the project. The CARMENES
instrument consists of two separate spectrographs covering the wavelength range from 0.52 to 1.7 μm at a spectral
resolution of R = 85, 000, fed by fibers from the Cassegrain focus of the telescope. The spectrographs are housed
in a temperature-stabilized environment in vacuum tanks, to enable a 1m/s radial velocity precision employing
a simultaneous ThAr calibration.
PANIC is a wide-field NIR camera, which is currently under development for the Calar Alto observatory (CAHA) in
Spain. It uses a mosaic of four Hawaii-2RG detectors and covers the spectral range from 0.8-2.5 μm (z to K-band). The
field-of-view is 30×30 arcmin. This instrument can be used at the 2.2m telescope (0.45arcsec/pixel, 0.5×0.5 degree
FOV) and at the 3.5m telescope (0.23arcsec/pixel, 0.25×0.25 degree FOV).
The operating temperature is about 77K, achieved by liquid Nitrogen cooling. The cryogenic optics has three flat folding
mirrors with diameters up to 282 mm and nine lenses with diameters between 130 mm and 255 mm. A compact filter
unit can carry up to 19 filters distributed over four filter wheels. Narrow band (1%) filters can be used.
The instrument has a diameter of 1.1 m and it is about 1 m long. The weight limit of 400 kg at the 2.2m telescope
requires a light-weight cryostat design. The aluminium vacuum vessel and radiation shield have wall thicknesses of only
6 mm and 3 mm respectively.