ANDES gets go-ahead to be installed at the Extremely Large Telescope

An agreement on the installation of ANDES, the ArmazoNes high Dispersion Echelle Spectrograph, at ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has been signed. Sweden is directly involved in ANDES through SELTIC (Swedish ELT Instrument Consortium) which consist of scientists and engineers from Stockholm University, Uppsala University, and Lund University.

The European Southern Observatories (ESO) is an international organisation of 16 countries (among them Sweden) that runs several world-class observatories, all located in Chile. ESO’s next endeavour is to build the world’s largest telescope, the ELT with an aperture of astonishing 39 meters, at Cerro Armazones, in the Atacama desert, Chile. Construction of ELT is well underway and it is expected to be ready for its first science observations in 2028.

Illustration of the ANDES instrument. Credit: ESO

ANDES is a powerful spectrograph, an instrument which splits light into its component wavelengths will have a record-high wavelength precision in the visible and near-infrared regions of light. ANDES will conduct detailed surveys of the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets, allowing astronomers to search extensively for signs of life. It will also be able to analyse chemical elements in faraway objects in the early Universe, making it likely to be the first instrument capable of detecting signatures of the earliest stars born in the Universe. In addition, astronomers will be able to use ANDES’ data to test if the fundamental constants of physics vary with time and space. ANDES has been designed,  and will be built, by an international consortium of research institutes from 13 countries, led by the Italian national institute for astrophysics (INAF), and with Swedish participation through SELTIC.

The agreement was signed at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, on June 5th by ESO’s Director General Xavier Barcons and by Roberto Ragazzoni, the President of INAF. “ANDES is an instrument with an enormous potential for groundbreaking scientific discoveries, which can deeply affect our perception of the Universe far beyond the small community of scientists,” says Alessandro Marconi, Principal Investigator of ANDES.

Photograph of signing ceremony. Credit: ESO

The Swedish involvement in ANDES (and other upcoming ELT instruments) is organized in SELTIC, which is led by Göran Östlin (Stockhom University), Nikolai Piskunov (Uppsala University), and Sofia Feltzing (Lund University). SELTIC is financially supported by the Swedish Research Council (VR). The contribution to ANDES is mainly done by the group at Uppsala University (also including Eric Stempels, deputy project manager for ANDES) who have taken part in designing the instrument, in particular testing and development of the fiber optics that brings the light from the telescope to ANDES. The team is also responsible for developing software to analyse the complicated data obtained by the instrument.

The signature of the construction agreement is an important milestone for the ANDES project that has been in development for more than a decade

says Eric Stempels. Nikolai Piskunov adds,
“in addition to the main ANDES goals my group will use the instrument to do stellar archaeology where we study older stars in the Milky Way and try to understand when and how they were formed.”

More Information

More information can be found here:
ESO:s press release


Nikolai Piskunov
SELTIC Co-Principal Investigator
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University
Tel: +46 471 5958

Eric Stempels
SELTIC team member, deputy project manager in the ANDES consortium
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University
Tel: +46 18 471 5994

Göran Östlin
SELTIC Principal Investigator
Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University
Tel: +46 8 553 785 13