To see the abstract of a talk, where available, click on the talk title to expand the item.
Talks marked with a light green background are broadly suitable for non-astronomers. By this we mean that non-astronomers should be able to follow a good part of the talk, even if it does contain some more in-depth material aimed at astronomers.
|Monday, 28 August 2017|
|13:00||Welcome and introduction||Rob Ivison|
I will review the evolution of ESO’s La Silla, Paranal and APEX Observatories in Chile over the last 10 years.
ESO's quest for high-resolution astronomy
I will talk about the adventure of the last ten years working with Tim de Zeeuw and on the ELT programme. I will describe the challenges we’ve faced, the achievements that we have made in the last decade — sometimes even beyond the original plans, and what we can look forward to in the years to come.
Over the last decades we have seen a revolution occurring in observational astronomy and astrophysics where access to state-of-the-art observational facilities has increasingly become dominated by “open access Observatories.” Astronomy is becoming very “flat” where access is determined largely through scientific peer review rather than in the past where it was heavily biased by geographical or institutional affiliation. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) are two prominent global examples of such facilities, which combined generated over 1,400 refereed publications in 2016. Tim de Zeeuw has of course a prominent role in the VLT, but he also had a key role in the success of HST as a member, then Chair of the Space Telescope Institute Council before joining ESO. I will briefly look at the common characteristics of the Institutions which enable such productive facilities, and look at the opportunities and challenges for 21st Century observational astrophysics as we enter the multi-billion-euro (or dollar) paradigm for future transformational facilities either on the ground, or in space.
The detection of Proxima b is the culmination of more than a decade of efforts. The initial detection and confirmation mostly come form ESO facilities, especially the HARPS spectrometer at La Silla. Although the technology has been avaliable for more than a decade, recent population studies based on Doppler and space based surveys strongly favoured the possibility that our nearest stellar companion hosted a rocky planet in a temperate orbit, thus justifying a focused campaign on it. In addition to their intrinsic scientific value, the search and exploration of nearby rocky planets is a topic of high public interest. I will conclude the talk pointing towards some strategies that might be pioneered by ESO to capitalise on this kind of science and public engagement in general.
We live in a new era in Astrophysics driven by the launch of the European satellite Gaia. Gaia is currently mapping our Galaxy by measuring distances and motions of one billion stars with exquisite accuracy and unprecedented detail. It is fair to say that the impact of this space mission on our understanding of galaxy evolution and dynamics will be extraordinary. Last September, Gaia produced its first data release. In this talk I will present some first results from the exploration of this dataset.
The presentation of the ESA Director General will be about the role and the future of space activities, underlining the important collaboration between ESA and ESO which has been established — also thanks to the strong support of ESO's Director General, Tim de Zeeuw.
|18:00||Reception (Eridanus auditorium foyer)|
|Tuesday, 29 August 2017|
I will give a personal account of the development of ALMA at ESO, focusing on the last ten years and the future outlook. This has been an extraordinary period for the ALMA observatory: from the construction effort to the start up of the science operations and the set up of the long term scientific development priorities. ALMA is providing transformational results in many science areas, from the formation of exoplanetary systems and their connections to our own Solar System to the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies. In this talk I will touch upon some of these and the outlook for ALMA science in the decade to come.
I will give a status of the James Webb Space Telescope project and describe observing plans and opportunities. I will briefly describe a few science areas where Webb will give major contributions. Finally, I will discuss possible synergies with the Extremely Large Telescope.
The last decade has seen an enormous leap forward in the characterization of extrasolar planet atmospheres, with ground-based telescopes playing a unique and increasingly important role. The prospects for the ELT are extremely exciting, and characterizing rocky exoplanets will be at the heart of its science. The detection of potential biomarker gases, such as molecular oxygen, can provide the first evidence of extraterrestrial life before the end of the next decade.
Over the last ten years, our understanding of how galaxies formed and evolved in the young Universe has had a major leap. ESO telescopes have been fundamental to this progress. In this talk I will review some of the main recent results on high-z galaxies that have been enabled by ESO telescopes. I will argue that the data collected by ESO over the last decade provide a rich legacy to enter the new era of world-class telescopes, such as the JWST and the E-ELT.
Although our continent has gone through a troubled period during which there was much criticism on the European project, there is notably one area in which European cooperation has only become stronger and that is science and innovation. More than ever before, scientist from the EU Member States work together in collaborative projects to extend the frontiers of knowledge and find solutions for the grand societal challenges. The field of astronomy is a great example of this. The EU Framework, managed by the European Commission, has been instrumental is fostering this cooperation between the best brains of Europe and notably its jewel in the crown, the European Research, has played a key role to boost frontier research. Many of Europe's best astronomers are an ERC Grant Holder. Also ESO is an active and appreciated partner of the European Commission not just through the collaborative research project, but also on key policy matters such as Open Access, Science Communication and Citizen Science.
Lunch (Eridanus Auditorium foyer)
New Directions in Cosmology with ESO’s Surveys
Protoplanetary disks are the birthplaces of planets, but the spatial resolution at long wavelengths has so far been insufficient to resolve the critical 5-30 AU region. ALMA, and in the near future JWST, now allow us to zoom in to nearby disks and determine the physical and chemical structure associated with planet formation. This talk will provide an overview of recent observations and models of protoplanetary disks around young stars in various stages of evolution. ALMA highlights include the detection of organic molecules (including sugar) and water in forming disks, images of the CO snowline, and evidence for very low gas/dust ratios or significant carbon and oxygen depletion in mature disks. How are these pre-biotic molecules formed and how do they end up on new planets where they can perhaps form the basis for life elsewhere in the universe?
|Ewine van Dishoeck|
The Galactic Center has been and will continue to be cornerstone to the understanding of supermassive black holes and their physics. Each of the last decades was coming with an order of magnitude sharper images: the 80's have seen first evidence for a central black hole from the gas motion within few lightyears. In the 90's we could pinpoint its location by resolving the star cluster and measure the stellar velocities within the central light months. And culminating in the 2000's and in the last 10 years with Tim de Zeeuw as ESO Director General, we have precisely measured the full orbit of a star approaching the black hole as close as a lightday. With each improved observation, the Galactic Center surprised with completely unexpected findings, from the presence of its supermassive black hole, its extreme faintness and sporadic outbursts, the paradox of youth of the stars surrounding it, and the tidal disruption of an infalling gas cloud. Right now we are witnessing the next quantum leap with GRAVITY interferometry, opening the window for imaging of the central light week and observing Einstein's theory of general relativity at work in the stellar orbits, and expanding ESO's leadership in this field. In our presentation we will give a historical overview of the Galactic Center research with focus on the last decade, present first observations with GRAVITY, and layout the thrilling perspective for the next ten years.
The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a next-generation observatory for very high energy (VHE) gamma-ray astronomy – a field that has seen remarkable evolution during the last decade. CTA’s southern array with close to 100 Cherenkov telescopes will be located at ESO/Chile. The presentation will outline the science topics to be addressed by CTA, and introduce the design and technology of the telescope array.
Hubble has revolutionized the discovery and study of very distant galaxies. Together the HST WFC3/IR and ACS cameras have opened up the exploration of the universe in the first billion years after the Big Bang. I will discuss what we have learned about the earliest galaxies during the reionization epoch in the first billion years at z>6 from the remarkable HST and Spitzer imaging surveys (e.g., HUDF/XDF, GOODS, HUDF09/12 and CANDELS), as well as surveys of galaxy clusters like the Frontier Fields (HFF). Lensing clusters provide extraordinary opportunities for characterizing the faintest earliest galaxies, but also present extraordinary challenges. The results from deep UV luminosity functions from Hubble, combined with the recent results from Planck, indicate that galaxies dominate the UV ionizing flux that reionized the universe. Some of the greatest surprises have come from the discovery of very luminous galaxies at z~8-11, around 400-650 million years after the Big Bang. The small sizes of galaxies at high redshifts, from analysis of the HFF cluster samples, reveal objects that, remarkably, are as small as globular clusters and dwarf galaxies. The recent confirmation of a z=11.1 galaxy, just 400 million years after the Big Bang, by a combination of Hubble and Spitzer data, pushed Hubble into JWST territory, far beyond what we ever expected Hubble could do. Fifteen years of astonishing progress with Hubble and Spitzer leave me looking to JWST, ALMA and the ELT to provide even more remarkable exploration of the realm of the first galaxies at "Cosmic Sunrise". The latest results on the star formation rate density at z~10 and from Planck indicating that reionization began around z~10 together have significant implications for the detectability of the "first galaxies" with JWST.
|18:00||Conference Dinner and Party (Cafeteria outside Eridanus Auditorium)|
|Wednesday, 30 August 2017|
In this presentation I will focus on ESO observations of the Magellanic Clouds using VISTA, highlighting several of the results obtained so far on the stellar content and structure of our two neighbouring galaxies. I will also mention the benefits of other current projects and of future studies using in particular ESO telescopes.
I will first give a brief general outline of astronomy activities in Australia, motivated by the signing of a Strategic Partnership between ESO and Australia in July this year, and describe two of the new radio telescopes now operating on a site in remote Western Australia. The main focus of my talk is on the new opportunities for studies of neutral hydrogen in local and distant galaxies opened up by the new Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope. Our knowledge about the amount and distribution of neutral atomic hydrogen (HI) in galaxies in the distant Universe remains patchy and incomplete, yet this component of the interstellar medium is critical to understanding how galaxies evolve over cosmic time. ASKAP's large (30 square degree) field of view, wide spectral bandpass and radio-quiet site provide a powerful new capability for large-area HI absorption surveys of galaxies in the redshift range 0 < z < 1. I will show some first results from a pilot survey carried out during ASKAP commissioning, outline the exciting prospects for the 'all-sky' 21cm HI absorption survey (ASKAP-FLASH) that we plan to begin next year, and discuss how observations with the ESO telescopes and ALMA can help address some key challenges in the astrophysical interpretation of 21cm HI absorption data.
The research field of asteroseismology is currently undergoing its first revolution. We start with a brief history of how this field of stellar physics evolved from dream to reality, including ESO’s role in it. Subsequently, we highlight how asteroseismology can serve various topics in astrophysics and focus on the current status. We discuss recent findings on the rotation and chemical mixing inside stars. Finally, we look at the perspectives of the second and third revolution in this area and highlight how ESO can play an optimal role in it.
MUSE and beyond: Prospects for Integral Field Spectroscopy at ESO
|12:20||Closing remarks||Tim de Zeeuw|