New telescope in Chile will study exoplanets

It will research planets outside the Solar System and comets orbiting around the sun.

Thursday, June 17, 2010  
New telescope in Chile will study exoplanets The so-called TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope) will seek exoplanets

To undertake new research in astronomy and to discover new planets and comets, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has announced a that a new robotic telescope will be installed in the La Silla Observatory in the Coquimbo Region, Chile. It will have significant capacities, as it is totally automatic and tracks the sky with great precision and speed.

The so-called TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope) will seek exoplanets, i.e., those outside the Solar System, in addition to comets orbiting the sun.

In a press release the agency detailed that the mechanism for finding these planets is to make highly precise measurements of the reduced luminosity caused by the exoplanets.

The new telescope will be around 60 cm in diameter and operated from a control room located in Lieges, Belgium, which is 12,000 km away from the facility in Chile.

The TRAPPIST will also analyze the southern comets and will be equipped with high-quality special filters that are ideal for allowing astronomers to obtain far more specific data and information.

The importance of this new telescope has to do with the fact that it is the first step in a new type of research, astrobiology. This discipline studies the origins and distribution of life throughout the entire Universe.

Chile has already made significant progress on astronomical studies. For example, recently an image of a galaxy close to the Milky Way Was captured from Chile through another ESO telescope.