<< back
Optimization of ESPRESSO Fundamental Physics Tests
Programa de Estímulo à Investigação 2014 (Processo nº 2148613525)

Principal Investigator
Carlos J. A. P. Martins

ESPRESSO is a fiber-fed, cross-dispersed, high-resolution, echelle spectrograph for ESO's VLT. It is being built by an international consortium including CAUP, and first light is scheduled for 2016. The combination of the extreme precision, stability and a large telescope makes it the world's most powerful astronomical spectrograph, providing the community with unique new scientific capabilities.

The Consortium will use the Guaranteed-Time Observations (GTO), awarded by ESO in return for the consortium's funds, for two cutting-edge scientific programmes:
1) Search for rocky extra-solar planets in the habitable zone of their host stars;
2) Test the universality of physical laws by testing the stability of fundamental physical couplings. This project will address the latter.

Specifically, we will prepare the ESPRESSO GTO tests of the stability of fundamental couplings, including the target selection. Mostly we will measure the fine-structure constant in absorption clouds along the line of sight of quasars, but some measurements of the proton-to-electron mass ratio are also foreseen. Building on recent experience with VLT data, detailed simulations will be done for all known candidate targets (currently more than 100) and any others that may still be found, optimising for source observability and brightness, absorber structure, and number, strength and shape of components, subject to the ESPRESSO specifications and the available observation time.

Our deliverable to the consortium is an optimised list of targets for commissioning and GTO. We will also provide to the community a detailed assessment of the impact of ESPRESSO for probing fundamental physics and dark energy. In the long term, this will put CAUP's Dark Side team in a stronger position to lead the scientific exploitation of this part of the ESPRESSO GTO, and to join the consortium that will build the HIRES spectrograph for the E-ELT (the key long-term priority of the Portuguese astronomical community).

bolseira: Ana Catarina Leite
orientador: Carlos Martins

15 December 2014
31 May 2016

Funding Institution
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

Fundação Gulbenkian

Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia