Jun 30, 2019
Planets around Alpha Centauri
A second life for the CEA VISIR camera

The first comprehensive planetary search campaign around the nearest star Alpha Centauri A has just been performed on the VLT telescope of the Southern European Observatory (ESO) using the NEAR infrared instrument (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region). Based on the VISIR infrared camera built under the coordination of the Astrophysics Department of CEA-Irfu and in service at ESO since 2004, the NEAR instrument is designed to detect planets with the Earth's mass and above. A first campaign of more than 100 hours of observations over 10 days has just ended with the contribution of the researchers of the Astrophysics Department of CEA-Irfu, in order to obtain the first direct image of a potential rocky exoplanet located in the habitable zone, conducive to life.



NEAR: effect of adaptive optics.

Start of the video: images without correction.
Middle of the video: images with correction of the adaptive optics which concentrates the light of the star and thus allows a better detection of planets.

Crédit : E. Pantin/DAp-CEA

Image of the Alpha Centaure star obtained in 10 minutes of observation with NEAR. The dashed line represents the orbit of the Earth (1 AU). The colored ring represents the supposed habitable zone around Alpha Cen A, a region where research is concentrated and for which the use of a coronagraph is essential.

Read more : in the French version


Contact : Eric PANTIN

See : the ESO  (European Southern Observatory) press  release (June 2019)

See also : ESO Announce "First Light" Exoplanet Search at Very Large Telescope (video)

Content : Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bidaud - ESO Press release

#4615 - Last update : 07/08 2019


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