The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in collaboration with the ESPRESSO consortium, has organized a conference in Lanzarote to review the current state of research carried out with the ESPRESSO instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
From 7th to 10th February, at Costa Teguise (Lanzarote, Spain) the “ESPRESSO Science Team Meeting 2023” was held. This conference, organized by the IAC, was aimed at reviewing the current status of the science carried out with the observations which used the guaranteed time on the ESPRESSO spectrograph, at the VLT (ESO, Paranal, Chile)
ESPRESSO (Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations) is an ultra-stable high resolution spectrograph whose main aim is the search and characterization of planets similar to the Earth, and the possible variation of the fundamental astrophysical constants.
Among the principal scientific contributions made by ESPRESSO in its first 5 years of observations, especially notable is the confirmation of planets similar to the Earth around nearby stars, some of them in their habitability zones, and also the characterization of exoplanets and their atmospheres. “With ESPRESSO we have taken an important step forward in our capacity to discover new worlds similar to the Earth” comments Jonay González, an IAC researcher and a member of the ESPRESSO science team.
Thanks to ESPRESSO other important results have been achieved, such as the confirmation of the origin of one of the oldest stars in the Milky Way, and a study of the variability of some of the fundamental constants of physics in the Universe. “At point in time ESPRESSO is unbeatable” says Rafael Rebolo, the Director of the IAC and co-director of the ESPRESSO consortium. "For the momento no other centre has managed to produce an instrument with similar quality to ESPRESSO”.
The success of this instrument opens a new horizon in several fields of astrophysics, and has established the basis for possible future instruments. “ESPRESSO is a reference for ambitious instruments under development in which the IAC is involved, such as ANDES for the ELT, whose aim will be to detect signs of life on other planets and to make a direct measurement of the expansion of the Universe” concludes Jonay González
ESPRESSO took nearly 12 years to build, with the participation of the IAC the Observatoire Astronomique de l'Université de Genéve (Switzerland), the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço/Universidade de Porto and Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal),the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera (Italy), the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste (Italy), and the Physikalisches Institut der Universität Bern (Switzerland). El European Southern Observatory (ESO) also participates in the ESPRESSO project as an associate institution.
ESPRESSO is a fiber-fed, cross-dispersed, high resolution, Echelle spectrograph which can be operated with one or up to 4 Unit Telescopes (UTs) of ESO’s VLT.