This Thursday 6 October 2016 a new telescope was inaugurated at the Observatory of Oukaimeden in Morocco in the presence of researchers of the Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech and astronomers of the University of Liège.
This observatory is located in the Moroccan Atlas at 2750m altitude and benefits from more than 250 clear nights per year. It already houses several telescopes of foreign universities. The inauguration of the new Belgian telescope took place at 11 am and corresponded to the passage of the “caravan of space” by the Oukaimeden, within the framework of the 17th festival of Astronomy of Marrakech.
This is TRAPPIST-Nord, a telescope that is twinned with the one installed at the La Silla Observatory in Chile in 2010 and which has recently spoken with the discovery of one of the nearest planetary systems containing Terrestrial planets potentially habitable. Following the many successes achieved by TRAPPIST in chile, a telescope financed by the FNRS, researchers from Liège received funding from the University of Liège to install this twin telescope in an exceptional site in the northern hemisphere.
Led by researchers from the University of Liège and Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, this new instrument has the same objectives as its illustrious predecessor: on the one hand the detection and study of exoplanets, and on the other hand The study of comets and other small bodies of the solar system in order to better understand the genesis of the solar system and of our Earth in particular.
Installed in record time in the spring of 2016, TRAPPIST-Nord allows scientists to have access to the entire celestial vault since June! It has just been formalized at the level of the International Astronomical Union and is codenamed Z53. For the Moroccan scientific accompaniment, two students have just started a thesis co-supervised with the University of Liège and researchers Emmanuël Jehin and Michaël Gillon, working pillars of the TRAPPIST project.
Thanks to this effort the new team hopes to realize in the coming months and years the first detection of an exoplanet from Morocco!