Saturday, December 22, 2007

Good Planets are Hard to Find

TEDI, the TripleSpec - Exoplanet Discovery Instrument saw "first light" on the 200-inch Hale Telescope last night.

The Hale is nearly 60 years old and observers are still building new instruments to keep this venerable telescope in the modern era. To the best of my knowledge TEDI is the first instrument fielded specifically for finding planets that orbit cool stars. It is in the commissioning phase now, but the observing program to come will survey the smallest dwarf stars - those classified as M, L and T.TEDI was created to work with Cornell's near-infrared Triple Spectrograph. The TripleSpec arrived at Palomar just last fall. TEDI was developed with the Cornell team and people from Space Sciences Lab at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawerence Livermore National Lab. Hunting for exoplanets isn't something new for Palomar. Little Sleuth has found several, including what is currently the largest known exoplanet, while the Palomar Testbed Interferometer is involved in a search of its own. The Lyot Project, coming to the 200" in the spring, will add the power of adaptive optics to the search.

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