Guarding the galactic heart

Like sentries guarding the heart of our home galaxy, the ESO 3.6-metre telescope and the Coudé Auxiliary Telescope stand tall in this stunning ultra high definition photograph from the La Silla Observatory, situated in the southern outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert.

Since its inauguration in 1976, the ESO 3.6-metre telescope has undergone various upgrades, including the installation of a new secondary mirror that has allowed the telescope to remain as efficient and productive as ever. Since 2008, the telescope has housed the HARPS spectrograph, the most precise exoplanet hunter in the world. HARPS, the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, is the most successful finder of low-mass exoplanets to date.

The now-decommissioned 1.4-metre Coudé Auxiliary Telescope (CAT) is housed in the smaller dome to the right of the 3.6-metre telescope. When active, the telescope fed the 3.6-metre’s Coudé Echelle Spectrometer through a light tunnel, which can be seen connecting the two facilities in this photograph. Fully computer controlled, CAT was used for many different types of astronomical observations, including measuring the ages of ancient stars.

Positioned 2400 metres above sea level and located far from sources of light pollution, the ESO 3.6-metre telescope experiences excellent observing conditions, as does the observatory’s entire family of telescopes. This family includes the New Technology Telescope (NTT), the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope, and a selection of national telescopes.

Credit:

Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO

About the Image

Id:potw1722a
Type:Photographic
Release date:29 May 2017, 06:00
Size:5000 x 3333 px

About the Object

Name:Coudé Auxiliary Telescope, ESO 3.6-metre telescope
Type:Unspecified : Technology : Observatory : Telescope
Category:La Silla

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