Swiss Involvement with ESO

Switzerland became the 7th member of ESO, and joined in 1982.

Switzerland currently contributes 4.25% of ESO’s revenue, worth 6 904 000 EUR.

Discoveries by Swiss astronomers using ESO telescopes

In October 2016, Elena Borisova, Sebastiano Cantalupo and other astronomers at ETH Zurich and other international institutions discovered giant glowing gas halos around distant quasars. They used MUSE on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. (eso1638)

Additional Involvement

The Swiss T70 Telescope was installed on La Silla in 1980, replacing the Swiss 0.4-metre Telescope, the previous Swiss national telescope. In 1998, when the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope became operational, the Swiss T70 telescope was decommissioned.

The Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope at La Silla was built and is operated by the Geneva Observatory. It is used in conjunction with the CORALIE spectrograph to conduct high precision radial velocity measurements principally to search for large exoplanets in the southern celestial hemisphere.

Number of Swiss astronomers and staff working at ESO

There are currently three Swiss nationals employed at ESO or working as students. One is in Garching and two are in Santiago in Chile.

Swiss Contributions to Technology

FLAMES (Fibre Large Array Multi Element Spectrograph) was designed and built by an international consortium of research institutes, led by the Observatoire de Genève. It is installed on the second Unit Telescope at the VLT, and it feeds two spectrographs: GIRAFFE and UVES. (eso0219)

HARPS was designed and built by an international consortium of research institutes, led by the Observatoire de Genève. It is one of the most successful planet finders in the history of astronomy. The High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher is based at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, and has discovered hundreds of new exoplanets. (eso0308)

ESPRESSO, the Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet and Stable Spectroscopic Observations, led by the Observatoire de Genève and the University of Bern, will be the successor to HARPS. It will be fed by the four Unit Telescopes (UTs) of the VLT and its primary goal will be to make very high precision radial velocity measurements of solar-type stars to search for rocky planets.