ESOcast 71: New Exoplanet-hunting Telescopes on Paranal
14 January 2015
This ESOcast takes a close look at an unusual new group of small telescopes that has recently achieved first light at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.
The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) will search for transiting exoplanets — planets that pass in front of their parent star and hence produce a slight dimming of the star’s light that can be detected by sensitive instruments. The telescopes will focus on discovering Neptune-sized and smaller planets, with diameters between two and eight times that of Earth. NGTS is designed to operate in a robotic mode and it will continuously monitor the brightness of hundreds of thousands of comparatively bright stars in the southern skies.
The NGTS discoveries, and follow-up observations by telescopes on the ground and in space, will be important steps in our quest to study the atmospheres and composition of small, Earth-like planets.
More episodes of the ESOcast are also available.
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Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada.
Editing: Herbert Zodet.
Web and technical support: Mathias André and Raquel Yumi Shida.
Written by: Mathias Jäger, Herbert Zodet and Richard Hook.
Narration: Sara Mendes da Costa.
Music: Johan B. Monell (www.johanmonell.com).
Footage and photos: ESO, L. Calçada, M. Kornmesser, ESA/Hubble, G. Lambert and B. Tafreshi (twanight.org).
Directed by: Herbert Zodet.
Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.
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