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CHIRON

Debra Fischer, Matt Giguere, Christian Schwab, Julien Spronck, Andrew Szymkowiak

     A new high resolution spectrometer for CTIO 1.5m telescope

In March 2011, our group, together with Andrei Tokovinin at CTIO, built and commissioned a high-resolution spectrometer, CHIRON. CHIRON is a highly stable cross-dispersed echelle spectrometer deployed at CTIO 1.5m telescope. It is fed by fiber and intended primarily for precise radial velocities. The instrument has four observing modes: (a) unsliced fiber (R = 25,000-30,000), (b) image slicer (3 slices, R=80,000), (c) wide slit (R = 80,000) and (d) narrow slit (R = 120,000). The spectral format spans 4200 to 8700 Angstroms. The total throughput of the telescope and spectrometer is 5-6%.

One of the main observing programs is the search for low mass planets around alpha Centauri A and B. Additionally, we also started the CHIRON rocky planet search (CHIRPS), which seeks to discover low mass planets around chromospherically quiet nearby stars. Two of the major goals of CHIRPS are to determine the occurrence of low mass planets around nearby stars, and to determine if the planet-metallicity and mass-metallicity relations hold true for low-mass planets. Other programs include abundance analysis, young star formation, binaries and grazing comets.

The image is a piece of raw spectrum of Alpha Cen A, taken with the CHIRON spectrograph (image slicer mode).

Image Credits: (header) NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)

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