The new FIDEOS (Fiber Dual Echelle Optical Spectrograph) instrument has made its first observations — known as first light — collecting its first scientific data and confirming its successful operation. FIDEOS is operating on the ESO 1-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile, the first telescope to be installed on the site back in 1966. It is one of the telescopes no longer run directly by ESO, and is now operated by the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN), having been refurbished by the Centro de Astro Ingeniería de la Universidad Católica de Chile (AIUC).
FIDEOS, which was designed and assembled by a team from the AIUC, is a high-resolution spectrograph that is optimised for determining radial velocities of stars to high precision, thereby identifying candidate exoplanets. A star that is orbited by an exoplanet is made to “wobble” by the gravitational effect of the exoplanet’s mass as it orbits around its host star. Very precise measurements of the radial velocities of stars can therefore indicate the presence of exoplanets. FIDEOS will use this method in its primary role as an exoplanet hunter, achieving high stability and the expectation of obtaining extremely high precision measurements.
Significantly, this is the first time that an instrument installed at an international observatory such as La Silla has been produced entirely by a Chilean institute. The project was funded by FONDEF (Fondo de Fomento al Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico) at CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica).