La Silla Observatory

La Silla Observatory

An observatory atop the 2,400-meter La Silla mountain that borders the southern extremity of the Atacama desert in Chile, about 160 kilometers north of La Serena at 29° 15' S, 70° 44' W. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), its instruments include a 3.6-meter reflector opened in 1976, the 3.5-meter New Technology telescope, opened in 1989, a 1.52-meter reflector, opened in 1968, a 1-meter Schmidt, opened in 1972, and 1-meter photometric telescope, opened in 1968. Also at La Silla is the 15-meter Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope, the Leonhard Euler Telescope, and a variety of other instruments owned by individual nations.


Leonhard Euler Telescope

The Leonhard Euler Telescope is a 1.2-meter Swiss reflector, built at the Geneva Observatory, located at La Silla Observatory, operated by the University of Geneva, and named in honor of the famous Swiss mathematician. It is used specifically, in conjunction with the Coralie spectrograph, to conduct high-precision radial velocity measurements principally to search for large exoplanets in the southern celestial hemisphere. Its first success was the discovery of a planet in orbit around Gliese 86.



Coralie is a high-precision échelle spectrograph developed through a collaboration between the Haute-Provence Observatory and La Silla Observatory. It is attached to the Leonard Euler Telescope, and the two instruments together form a dedicated, automated system for searching for large exoplanets in the southern hemisphere. Essentially an enhanced version of Elodie, Coralie has superior spectral resolution, a more efficient light detector, and improved instrumental control, including on-line data reduction and analysis. Coralie can measure the radial velocity of a star to a precision better than 7 meters per second (25 kilometers per hour) – about the speed of a fast human runner. While in its commissioning phase in 1998, it was used in the detection of a planet in orbit around Gliese 86.