Introduction to the La Silla Observatory
Astronomers have long been excited about astronomy discoveries from the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The observatory contains the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher. This is one of the most accurate spectrometers in the world. The High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher works by watching the wavelengths of stars as they approach the Earth and move away from our planet. The High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher has been used to study stars and planets since 2003.
The first discovery by the spectrometer was HD 330075 b on February 10, 2004. This planet is part of the constellation Norma and is 164 light-years away from Earth. The most amazing discovery came in October, 2009, when the team of scientists working at the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher announced that they had found 150 new exoplanets. These exoplanets orbit a star differently than the sun.
Astronomers have installed a spectrometer similar to the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo on the Canary Islands. This new instrument will allow astronomers to study objects in the northern skies.
A current goal of the project is to produce a list of planets that can be inhabited. Astronomers expect the list to take ten to twenty years to produce.
Image Credit: ESO
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