First light for HiRISE, an innovative instrument designed for the study of exoplanets


The European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has recently been enhanced with a new instrument featuring an innovative concept that combines the capabilities of two flagship instruments already installed on the telescope. The newcomer, dubbed HiRISE, will couple the SPHERE exoplanet imager and the CRIRES+ very high-resolution spectrograph. While SPHERE has very good resolution for direct imaging of exoplanets, CRIRES+ is 2,000 times more powerful when it comes to separating and analysing the light emitted by such planets, making it possible to determine the composition of their atmospheres. By combining the two instruments via fibre optics, HiRISE will be able to carry out in-depth studies of planets that are already known. It successfully captured its first light from the VLT in Chile's Atacama Desert on July 9, 2023.

HiRISE received an ERC Starting Grant and was developed at the Marseille Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS/CNES/Aix-Marseille University). It also benefited from the expertise of teams at the Grenoble Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics (CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes), and at the JL Lagrange Laboratory (CNRS/Observatoire de la Côte d 'Azur/Université Côte d 'Azur).

HiRISE project fibre injection module in the SPHERE instrument on the VLT. It picks up the signal from a  known exoplanet imaged by SPHERE, and this light is then carried by a fibre bundle to an extraction module that sends it to CRIRES+.
© Arthur VIGAN / LAM / CNRS Images


As part of the HiRISE project, an optical fibre bundle connecting the SPHERE and CRIRES+ instruments is being installed beneath the VLT.
© Arthur VIGAN / LAM / CNRS Images


You can see all the images of HiRISE at CNRS Images.


Arthur Vigan
CNRS researcher and HiRISE’s principal investigator
François Maginiot
CNRS Press Officer