Announcements

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ann13027 — Announcement
The ALMA Inauguration Video News Release and ESOcast
14 March 2013: On 13 March 2013, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory was formally inaugurated during an official ceremony held at the ALMA site on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes (eso1312). ALMA is a partnership between Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The guest of honour was the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera. Many high-level officials and representatives of the ALMA international partnership were also present, along with ALMA workers and people from the nearby communities. ALMA is the largest astronomical project in the world and this ceremony marks its formal transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. ALMA consists of an array of 66 antennas spread over an area 16 kilometres in diameter. More than 50 of ALMA’s antennas are already in operation, and all 66 are fully assembled. The ALMA correlator, a record-breaking supercomputer — the only one ...
ann13026 — Announcement
New Movie: ALMA — In Search of Our Cosmic Origins
13 March 2013: To mark the occasion of the inauguration of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [1] on 13 March 2013, ESO, with its international partners, has released a new movie called ALMA — In Search of Our Cosmic Origins. This 16-minute video presents the history of ALMA, from the early days of the project several decades ago to the recent first science results. The movie is illustrated by dramatic helicopter footage and has a soundtrack that includes expressive music especially composed by Toomas Erm (ESO). You are taken on a journey to ALMA’s home on the Chajnantor Plateau, at an altitude of 5000 metres, in the unique environment of the Chilean Atacama Desert. The movie tells the story of the project from its earliest beginnings, when Europe, North America and East Asia developed a common concept for a new, large telescope for millimetre and submillimetre wavelength observations to observe the coldest and ...
ann13025 — Announcement
In Search of Our Cosmic Origins Photo Book Released
13 March 2013: The biggest astronomy project in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), will very likely make rivers of ink run in science journals around the world very soon, but before that happens, it has been portrayed in detail in the beautiful photo book In Search of Our Cosmic Origins. Produced especially for the ALMA inauguration, which is to be held today at an official ceremony at the ALMA site in the Chilean Andes, the photo book looks at the history of the project and the people who have made it possible. The images take the reader on a tour, from the first plans to create a big radio interferometer and the birth of the idea of a common international project, through the search for the perfect location, the technical and logistic challenges of ALMA’s construction, and, finally, to the successful completion of the project, marked by the first impressive ...
ann13024 — Announcement
New Brochure Details ALMA’s Construction
13 March 2013: To mark the inauguration of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the ALMA partner organisations have produced a brochure explaining how scientists and engineers from Europe, North America and East Asia, in cooperation with the Republic of Chile, have collaborated on the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence. The challenges of planning and building a science facility like ALMA are enormous. Its remote location and the extreme environment on the Chajnantor Plateau, 5000 metres up in the Chilean Andes and in the driest desert of the world, the Atacama, put harsh demands on both people and technology. This brochure outlines how the participating organisations have built ALMA and details each region’s contribution to the project. Each one of these contributions is vital to ALMA’s success and such a project would not have been possible for any single nation to achieve. ALMA, an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, ...
ann13023 — Announcement
The Atacama Elders' Vision of the Cosmos
13 March 2013: While the construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) on the Chajnantor Plateau was in progress another remarkable project was developing in the San Pedro de Atacama area in the Chilean Andes. This was an ethnological research project aiming to reconstruct the traditional vision of the Universe of the inhabitants of the local communities. On the occasion of the observatory’s inauguration today, Wednesday 13 March 2013, a booklet will be presented unveiling some of the results of this project through the voices of the key protagonists. This document describes the origin, evolution and some of the highlights of this important project for ALMA and the Atacameño community that hosts it. This work was carried out in collaboration with the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige, S. J. Museum of the Universidad Católica del Norte and a group of local researchers. Its aim was to facilitate access to, and bring, the ...
ann13022 — Announcement
Huge Map of the Distant Universe Reaches Halfway Point
12 March 2013: The largest project ever undertaken to map out the Universe in three dimensions using ESO telescopes has reached the halfway stage. An international team of astronomers has used the VIMOS instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope to measure the distances to 55 000 galaxies [1] as part of the VIPERS survey [2]. This has already allowed them to create a remarkable three-dimensional view of how galaxies were distributed in space in the younger Universe. This reveals the complex web of the large-scale structure of the Universe in great detail. By studying the cosmic web astronomers can test theories of how the Universe formed and evolved and help to track down the properties of the mysterious dark energy that is making the expansion of the Universe speed up. By mapping how large-scale structure grows with time they can also check whether Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds precisely, or whether ...
ann13021 — Announcement
Partnership with Wings for Science
7 March 2013: ESO has initiated an outreach partnership with the ORA Wings for Science project, which offers aerial support to public research organisations while on a journey around the world. The project has recently taken some stunning photographs of the observatories in northern Chile, such as the largest astronomy project in existence, the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [1]. ORA (Observe, Report, Analyse) is a non-profit organisation whose members are either scientists, teachers or aeronautics professionals. The two crew members of the Wings for Science Project, Clémentine Bacri and Adrien Normier, are flying around the world, helping out scientists with aerial capabilities ranging from air sampling to archaeology, biodiversity observation and 3D terrain modeling. Short movies and amazing pictures that are produced during the flights are used for educational purposes and for promoting local research. Their circumnavigation started in June 2012 and will finish in June 2013 with a landing at ...
ann13020 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Virtual Press Conference to Mark ALMA Inauguration
6 March 2013: On 13 March 2013 the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) [1], the largest astronomical project in the world, will be inaugurated in Chile, celebrating ALMA’s transition from a construction project to a fully fledged observatory. For members of the media who cannot be present at the inaugural event, the ALMA partner organisations will host an online press meeting via Adobe Connect on 12 March 2013 at 12:00 CET. Presentations about the development, inauguration and future of the ALMA project will be given, including the latest news on scientific achievements. Journalists will be offered the opportunity to pose questions to ALMA engineers and scientists. The speakers are ALMA director Thijs de Graauw, ALMA Chief Scientist Ryohei Kawabe, Professor at Leiden University and former ALMA Board member Ewine van Dishoeck, and Head of the ALMA Department of Engineering Michael Thorburn. To participate in the conference and receive additional material under embargo, bona ...
ann13019 — Announcement
United Kingdom Confirms Participation in E-ELT
4 March 2013: Representatives of United Kingdom (UK) confirmed on 3 March 2013 that their country will participate in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme. Eleven ESO Member States have now joined the E-ELT programme. The UK is a 16 per cent partner in ESO and the newly announced investment amounts to 88 million pounds (approximately 100 million euros) over the ten-year construction period. “This is a big step forward for the E-ELT project,” comments Tim de Zeeuw, ESO’s Director General, “The United Kingdom has already contributed significantly to the design and UK astronomers and industry are well placed to make major contributions as the project enters its construction phase." The UK has led the development of the science case, as well as developing instrument designs, optical technologies and telescope systems, and developing manufacturing processes. The UK instrument programme will be delivered in close collaborations between Durham University, the University of Oxford, ...
ann13018 — Announcement
Shaping the Future of the E-ELT
4 March 2013: From 25 February until 1 March 2013, a major workshop on the future of instrumentation for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), entitled Shaping E-ELT Science and Instrumentation was organised by ESO in Garching, Germany. The E-ELT is a revolutionary ground-based telescope — it will have a 39-metre main mirror, and will be the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world upon its completion in the next decade. There was great interest in the meeting — so much so that the original plan to hold the sessions at ESO itself had to be abandoned and a larger local venue used — and more than 180 astronomers from around Europe attended. This conference aimed to gather insight and input from the science community on the future course of action for the E-ELT, and to consider which instruments should be chosen to follow the telescope’s two first-light instruments. In particular, the possible future ...
ann13017 — Announcement
New ESO Science Newsletter Released
1 March 2013: The users of ESO facilities and the astronomical community in general now have an updated information source to help them keep up to date with the latest developments at ESO. The ESO Science Newsletter replaces the ESO Electronic Newsletter (Enews) and comes in a new format. It will continue and extend the role of the earlier publication. The continuity is also preserved through the editorship of Jeremy Walsh, who also edits the ESO Messenger. Along with other items of interest this edition includes the announcement of the ESO Call for Proposals for Period 92. The ESO Science Newsletter focuses on providing relevant and timely news to users of ESO facilities. It augments the information presented in public scientific press releases and the ESO Messenger with its in-depth articles and more general information on the organisation. It further aims at giving the readers links to relevant information available on the ESO ...
ann13016 — Announcement
Live Streaming of ALMA Inauguration
1 March 2013: On 13 March 2013 the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) — the largest ground-based astronomical project in the world — will be inaugurated, marking the transition from construction project to fully fledged observatory. To enable people around the world to witness first-hand this exciting milestone in humanity’s quest to understand the cosmos, a live video stream of the inauguration will be webcast from the observatory’s Operations Support Facility, at an altitude of 2900 metres in the Chilean Andes. The stream of the day’s events will run from 14:30 UT to around 16:00 UT. The stream will be available on the day at http://www.almaobservatory.org/inauguration/. The President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, along with hundreds of guests including representatives from the global scientific community, current and former ALMA personnel and its executives, as well as the communities located near ALMA, will celebrate the success of the project. The latest results from this state-of-the-art ...
ann13015 — Announcement
New Hardware to Take Interferometry to the Next Level
1 March 2013: ESO has just taken delivery of the last of a series of sophisticated optical and mechanical systems called star separators for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). These systems from the Dutch research institute TNO will allow the VLTI’s future instruments to observe much fainter objects than is possible at present. A bright star is needed as a reference so the VLTI can correct for the constantly changing atmospheric conditions and remain precisely adjusted to extremely high precision. Currently this bright star must also be the target of the observations, limiting the type of object that astronomers can study with the VLTI. But the new star separator technology allows two objects to be observed together: a bright star to track the atmosphere and a faint target to be studied. The corrections from the bright object are applied to the fainter one. Thanks to this development the reach of VLTI, using ...
ann13014 — Announcement
How is the Very Large Telescope Operated?
27 February 2013: ESO has produced and released a brochure containing information on the operation of the state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities provided by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal, Chile. The publication, entitled Operating the Very Large Telescope, describes the end-to-end science operations process: how observing time on the VLT is allocated, the efficiency and flexibility of the process for obtaining some of this time; what it is like to observe at a world-class site like Paranal, and how the data are collected, stored and shared. The VLT’s observing schedule, as well as the collection and archiving of the gathered data, is managed by teams at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, and at the different ESO sites in Chile. The strong link between Garching and Chile, ESO’s host country, has enabled the VLT to develop from an idea into a very efficient science machine. As well as the VLT operations, astronomers ...
ann13013 — Announcement
Media Advisory: The Crown Prince Couple of Denmark to Meet the Press at Paranal Observatory
26 February 2013: On 14 March 2013, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Denmark, will visit ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile accompanied by his wife, Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess. Denmark has been member of ESO since 1967, and the visit is part of the Crown Prince Couple’s official visit to Chile which will showcase several important cultural, industrial, health, environmental and scientific links between Denmark and Chile. The Crown Prince Couple will be meeting the press outside the Paranal Residencia at 20:45 CET/16:45 CLT on 14 March 2013. Members of the press are welcome to attend in person. To participate in this press and photo opportunity or to receive additional information, members of the media must obtain accreditation by contacting Mathieu Isidro (misidro@eso.org). A confirmation email will be sent and additional information will be provided only to the accredited media before the event. Accreditation will remain open until 8 March ...
ann13012 — Announcement
New ALMA Brochure Published
25 February 2013: A new brochure called The ALMA Universe detailing the design, construction, and use of the the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been released by ESO in collaboration with its partners in the USA (NRAO) and East Asia (NAOJ). This publication describes the components and properties of the observatory that make it such a groundbreaking project, from its location to its revolutionary antennas, its specialised receivers and transporters, the powerful ALMA correlator supercomputer, its high imaging resolution and vividly clear astronomical images. The brochure also highlights some of the recent scientific discoveries made by ALMA. Although it is not yet fully functional, the array has achieved incredible results from just a partial arrangement of antennas during its Early Science observing phase. The ALMA brochure is available to view online in both English and Spanish.
ann13011 — Announcement
Final ALMA Front End Delivered
22 February 2013: The final front end for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been delivered to the observatory’s Operations Support Facility (OSF) in Chile, marking another milestone in the completion of the project. With one installed in each of ALMA’s 66 antennas, the front ends are the first step in a long chain of devices that receive, convert, process and record the astronomical data collected by the telescope. Each front end contains a set of extremely sensitive receivers, cooled to temperatures of just four degrees above absolute zero (-269 degrees Celsius), which detect the millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light that ALMA “sees”. Construction of the front ends for ALMA has been shared between the European, North American and East Asian partners in the project. Twenty-six of the total complement of 70 units were built at the European Front End Integration Centre, based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK, including ...
ann13010 — Announcement
New Laser Improves VLT’s Capabilities
21 February 2013: A new and more powerful laser has successfully completed testing at ESO’s Paranal Observatory and has been formally accepted today. This new laser source is called PARLA and forms a vital part of the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF) at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). The laser is used to generate an artificial star about 90 kilometres up in the atmosphere [1]. By creating and observing such a bright point of light astronomers can probe the turbulence in the layers of the atmosphere above the telescope. This information is then used to adjust deformable mirrors in real time in order to correct most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of atmosphere and create much sharper images. The new laser will greatly improve the reliability and flexibility in operating the LGSF. It uses similar technology to that which will also be employed in the four lasers of the future ...
ann13009 — Announcement
ESO Extends Lead as World’s Most Productive Ground-based Observatory
19 February 2013: An analysis of the number of peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2012 using data from ESO’s telescopes and instruments has shown that ESO remains the world’s most productive ground-based observatory. More than 870 refereed papers using ESO data were published last year, a significant increase from the previous totals, and the most in ESO’s history. The number of papers using observations from ESO in 2012 was slightly ahead of those that used data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. About 70% of all the papers credited to ESO in 2012 employ data acquired using the Very Large Telescope (VLT)/ VLT Interferometer facilities, a fraction that has been consistently increasing over the past three years. Other facilities of the La Silla Paranal Observatory — including the survey telescope VISTA at Paranal as well as La Silla telescopes and instruments — have similar numbers to the previous year, and they alone nearly ...
ann13008 — Announcement
ESOcast 53: Chile Chill 3
15 February 2013: This is the third installment of Chile Chill, a type of ESOcast designed to offer a calm experience of the Chilean night sky and ESO’s observing sites, undisturbed by facts or narration. In this episode we are treated to stunning views of the Atacama Desert, including the conical volcano Licancabur and slow moonrises over the Andes. This episode is focused on ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Watch the synchronised movement of the antennas as they dance to an audience of stars, which appear to race across the sky in time-lapse sequences. The ALMA project is very near to completion and is already providing scientists with many exciting and significant results. The video is set to instrumental music composed by John Stanford (johnstanfordmusic.com). More Information The ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO — the European Southern Observatory. Subscribe to ...
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