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  • Cryogenic Camera to Reveal Secrets of Exoplanets
    The NIX camera in its cryostat (credit: STFC)

Cryogenic Camera to Reveal Secrets of Exoplanets

Mar 27 2021 Read 27 Times

A powerful new ‘luggage-sized’ cryogenic camera system incorporating  ground-breaking high-contrast imaging technology, NIX will allow astronomers to directly image the first pictures of young giant exoplanets. These young giants, which orbit stars beyond our own Sun, are even more massive than Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system.

NIX, built at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh has been provisionally accepted by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial physics (MPE) in Germany, which leads the consortia of institutions and partners involved.

Nix is a major component of ground-breaking next generation Enhanced Resolution Imager and Spectrograph (ERIS) which operates at longer wavelengths (3-5µm). The ERIS instrument is expected to be operational in 2022 at one of the world’s biggest and most advanced optical telescopes – ESO’s VLT, at the Paranal Observatory in Northern Chile.

Principal Investigator for ERIS, Dr Ric Davies from MPE, said: “The delivery of the NIX camera system from UK ATC in Edinburgh to MPE in Germany is a really important milestone and means that the process of integrating it into the rest of the instrument can now begin. Once that is done and we have confirmed that everything is working well together, the completed instrument will be delivered to the VLT in Chile, and astronomers can start to do the exciting science that ERIS will enable.”

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