Calar Alto observatory gets a new exo-planet searcher gizmo

It’s called Carmenes, which stands for Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exo-earhts with Near-infrared and
optical Echelle Spectrographs. Wow. Spelling mistakes from the original Spanish article in “La Voz de Almería” by the way.

It’s a unique bit of kit that will be fitted onto their Zeiss 3.5 metre telescope which aims to spot possible planets in other solar systems. Although in the photo above, it looks more like a swimming pool pump. Could this all be a massive con by the overworked and underpaid scientists up at Calar Alto observatory – they’ve actually gone and built themselves a swimming pool???? Probably not.

The idea behind Carmenes is that it detects the slowing down of rotating stars that would be caused by the presence of planets. By some various calculations, the scientists can then figure out the number and size of planets around that star.

“It’s a unique bit of kit that’s capable of detecting the movements of stars billions of kilometres away, of spotting the slowing down of rotations by a metre a second, equal to that of a normal person walking” said the over-excited astronomer.

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