Abstracts of Large Programmes and Public Spectroscopic Surveys scheduled in Period 106


This list of OPC approved Large Programmes (LPs) is updated every observing period.



\veils, the VISTA Extragalactic Infrared Legacy Survey, is a new ESO Public Survey, covering 9 sqrdeg of extragalactic legacy fields with deep, cadenced observations. The innovative aspect of \veils\ is its design enabling the first wide-field $J$ and $Ks$-band extragalactic time domain survey. The goal of this time-domain survey is to use two independent standardisable candles -- type Ia supernovae and AGN dust time-lags -- to significantly improve constraints of cosmological parameters in a complementary way to BAO, weak lensing, or the CMB. In addition, we will search for new members of a recently discovered class of optically-elusive, infrared-bright transients. With the proposed Large Programme VOILETTE (= VEILS OptIcal Lightcurves of Extragalactic TransienT Events), we are seeking the crucial optical time-domain support to enable the transient science of \veils\ as the Dark Energy Survey is finishing. VOILETTE will use the VST to obtain cadenced $griz$ observations of the \veils\ fields to (1) discover, classify, and build light curves of new type Ia supernovae, (2) monitor the optical variability of AGN to determine dust time lags, and (3) support identification of infrared transients with and without an optical counterpart.




The rotation curves of galaxies are still a major tool for determining the distribution of mass within galaxies. Their shapes and normalisation provide fundamental information for measuring the contribution of stars, gas and dark matter in galaxies' mass budgets, as well as their formation and evolution, Hubble type and environment. Recent results on the falling outer rotation curves of high-redshift galaxies suggest that massive galaxies at $z\sim$\,2 have dark matter fractions that are negligible. However, these results rely on stacking, and the three-dimensional renormalisation of the data cubes required has strong systematic effects on the resulting rotation curve shape. Indeed, flat curves can also be derived from the same data if the stack is weighted by stellar size rather than dynamical radius, leading to radically different conclusions about the dark matter content of galaxies at this epoch. Here, we propose to overcome these systematics by obtaining two deep (100-hr each) KMOS pointings to measure the H$\alpha$ rotation curves in 46 main-sequence galaxies at $z\approx1.5$ to radii extending up to (and beyond) six times the stellar disk-scale radius ($\sim$\,15\,kpc). We will use the data to measure the contribution of stars and dark matter on a galaxy-by-galaxy basis, to definitively determine to what extent high-redshift galaxies are either baryon or dark matter dominated all the way to their outer edges.




Giant planets are thought to form via core-accretion, whereby rocky/icy cores form early on in the protoplanetary disk, and then at a critical point attract gas from the disk to build up an atmosphere. The precise composition of the core, particularly the ice-mass fraction, tells us about the formation process and where in the protoplanetary disk the planet formed. In most cases the gaseous envelope hides this core, meaning we cannot determine its composition. However in situations where the planet is exposed to intense radiation, that gaseous envelope is lost, providing us with a unique opportunity to study the exposed core. We target cores by observing planets subject to gas evaporation, with orbital period $<5$d and radius between 1.8 and 4 $R_\oplus$. With this large program proposal, we want to measure the masses of up to 30 new planetary cores across the parameter space, studying the core composition, formation process and mass distribution statistically for the first time. This will in turn allow us to determine where in the disk these cores formed, and thus give us insight into where planet formation occurs and how far these planets migrated since their initial formation. We will source our targets initially from \textit{K2} planet discoveries, updating to include bright \textit{TESS} candidates from mid-P102 onwards. Our science goals can be met independently of \textit{TESS}, allowing the characterisation of 12 new cores using \textit{K2} targets alone.




We propose an ambitious program to characterize, in terms of mass, radius, and density, at least 20 small transiting planets (1--4\,R$_\oplus$). By determining planetary masses to better than 10-15\%, we will be able to distinguish between internal structure models, and determine whether these systems are silicate-based planets like our Moon, planets with an iron core like the Earth, or even denser systems like Mercury. We will do so by conducting HARPS radial velocity (RV) observations of planets detected to transit by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (\textit{TESS}), scheduled for launch in April 2018. Our extensive experience with planet detection and characterization for the \textit{K2} mission, will allow our \textit{KESPRINT} team to carry out quick and efficient \textit{TESS} transiting planet detection and vetting, and carry out a systematic RV characterization campaign. The detailed characterization of small transiting planets, enabled by the bright stars to be observed by \textit{TESS}, is key to understand planet formation. Our observations will provide constraints on photo-evaporation models and models of planet formation, by investigating the core composition of super-Earth planets and ultra-short period planets (USPs) that have lost their atmospheres. We will further investigate the population of sub-Neptune planets and identify key targets for future atmospheric studies such as with the James Webb Space Telescope.




We propose to exploit ALMA continuum surveys of submillimetre sources in the UKIDSS/UDS, COSMOS and GOODS-S/ECDFS fields, which provide precise identifications and multiwavelength properties for $\sim$\,1,100 submillimetre galaxies (SMGs). SMGs represent a population of massive, strongly star-forming galaxies at $z\sim$\,1--4, which have been empirically claimed to have many of the properties expected for the progenitors of local spheroidal galaxies. To test this claim quantitatively and so determine their role in the formation of today's massive galaxies, we propose to target 545 ALMA-identified SMGs ($K_{\rm AB} \le$ 24) in 49 KMOS pointings across these three fields. These observations allow us to: 1) derive precise spectroscopic redshifts for the SMGs to measure their clustering and thus their halo masses; 2) study the dynamics and kinematics of ionised gas in a subset of $\sim$\,300 of the brightest SMGs to derive their dynamical masses and gas fractions; 3) compare SMG kinematics to less-active populations to test their triggering; 4) search for transition objects to probe the links between starburst and AGN at the era of peak activity of both populations. Near-infrared high-multiplex spectra from KMOS is the most efficient way to derive redshifts, spectral properties and dynamics (especially for the brighter examples at $z\leq$\,3--4) and thus understand SMG's place in the evolution of massive galaxies.




A new generation of wide-field sky surveys, some monitoring the sky several times per night, mean we are now in a golden era of transient astronomy. Gathering the ESO community working on supernovae (SNe) and unusual transients into one coherent team, PESSTO/ePESSTO has revolutionised the exploitation of these surveys, developing efficient synergies with multi-messenger experiments and making the NTT a crucial global facility (80+ papers). We have provided legacy datasets for the electromagnetic counterpart of gravitational waves, the lowest metallicity supernovae, supernovae in remote locations, and long-lived supernovae not explained by standard neutrino-driven explosions, as well as unveiled a diversity in the most luminous supernovae. We now propose `advanced'-ePESSTO (ePESSTO+), building on the success of our ePESSTO consortium and bridging the gap to the SOXS instrument that will arrive at the NTT in 2021. We will expand the scientific focus to include gravitational wave sources, transients that evolve on the timescale of a few days, and those with extreme energetics. We will focus on the most exciting new transient populations now being discovered by all-sky surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility, \textit{Gaia} and ATLAS. The current stream of transients provided by these surveys requires large spectroscopic follow-up which we, the ESO community, are well placed to lead. We will continue to make all reduced data public as we have done for ePESSTO.




Current planet detection methods struggle to find planets around hot stars. Discovering planets in this regime would provide crucial information on how planet occurrence scales with stellar mass. Radial velocity surveys of evolved A-type stars hint that giant planets on $\sim$au orbits in this regime could be up to 5x more common than around solar-type stars. The only way to confidently detect these planets is via differential astrometry of sub-arcsecond early-type binary stars. Using data from a previous VLTI pilot test, we demonstrate that $\sim$10 micro-arcsecond precision can be achieved in 1-hour observations. This precision is sufficient to detect the ``wobble" of a star from 2-10 M$_J$ planets on $\sim$au orbits. Monitoring a sample of binaries for 2-years would reveal these planets, making this project perfectly suited for the large programme. The expert control of pupil and astrometric baseline with GRAVITY at VLTI are essential for controlling systematics that dominate the CHARA array, while better sensitivity at VLTI allows us to target wider binaries where planet suppression at 1 au is not expected. We propose to begin a large survey using GRAVITY and the ATs to monitor bright early-type binary stars in order to detect giant planets within a few au of individual stars in the binary pair. With 10 epochs on each of our sample of 30 targets, we expect to detect 8$\pm$3 giant exoplanets assuming a top-heavy distribution of planets.




One of the most exciting opportunities offered by GRAVITY is to directly resolve the broad line region (BLR) of active galactic nuclei using spectro-astrometry. Since P99 we have been exploiting this capability to study the inner workings of AGN in the K-band on unprecedented micro-arcsecond (sub-pc) spatial scales. We have made the first interferometric detection of the BLR and found ordered rotation in the quasar 3C 273 (GRAVITY collab., Nature, in press) proving both the feasibility and value of such measurements. This proposal takes a major step forward by extending this capability to measure BLR radius, structure, and kinematics for a sample of objects spanning four orders of magnitude in luminosity. We will establish a new, GRAVITY-based radius-luminosity relation, thereby testing reverberation mapping methods and forming the basis for more robust black hole mass measurements in large samples in the local and distant Universe. From the same data, we will simultaneously measure the size and structure of the hot dust ``torus'' to understand its origin and physical connection to the BLR. Our team of observers and theorists has extensive experience in AGN science including interferometry and reverberation. We have developed the analysis and modeling tools needed to fully capitalize on such a unique data set.




In this study we will investigate binary stellar evolution through the study of post-AGB binaries. These targets are surrounded by circumbinary disks that can be seen as second-generation protoplanetary disks. We want to take advantage of the near-infrared interferometric technique that is able to resolve the building blocks (circumbinary disk inner rim, inner binary, accretion signatures) of our targets. Our previous snapshot survey revealed a morphological complexity that geometrical models are not able to reproduce. We propose to unveil this complexity by using the full capability of the VLTI by imaging the continuum emission of 11 targets with PIONIER and locate the emission lines with GRAVITY. Our objectives are to \textit{1)} reveal the 3-dimensional morphology of the disk inner rim and constrain disk/binary interactions, \textit{2)} obtain the absolute distances, luminosities, and masses of the systems, \textit{3)} look for direct evidence for accretion from the circumbinary disk, \textit{4)} confirm the presence of a circum-secondary accretion disk in the whole sample, \textit{5)} study the origin of extended flux component, and \textit{6)} reveal a disk evolutionary sequence. Combining recent advances in aperture synthesis techniques with state-of-the-art 3-dimensional radiative transfer models of circumbinary disks will give us a sharp view on the structure and evolution of these second generation protoplanetary disks.




This VST monitoring program is part of an ongoing effort to measure $H_0$ to 1\% using the time delays in 40 strongly lensed quasars. This single-step technique needs no complex calibration and provides robust constraints on $H_0$. A 1\% measurement of $H_0$ will both clarify the current discrepancy in $H_0$ between CMB and local measurements with Cepheids and Supernovae and improve the FoM of any stage-IV survey by 40\%. In practice, we will carry out a high-cadence (daily) and high-SNR (1000) R-band monitoring to measure time delays in at least 6 systems to $<$2\% in 2 years, complementing our current monitoring with the MPIA 2.2m telescope. With the same VST data, we will build mass maps for each field with weak lensing, allowing to detect any mass clump along the lines-of-sights down to $\kappa_{ext}\sim0.02$. Together with existing and approved HST data, the VST time delays and weak lensing maps will add 6 new systems to the current H0LiCOW sample of 4 analyzed systems.




We propose to obtain several new MUSE Deep Fields of $t_{\mathrm{exp}} = 25^{\mathrm{h}}$ in blank-sky locations with ultra-deep HST multiband imaging and other ancillary data available. Our selected targets are the four parallel fields of the Hubble Frontier Fields legacy programme that are accessible to the VLT. Our observing strategy is guided by a combination of several science drivers: (1) Obtain spatially resolved spectroscopy of typical Lyman-$\alpha$ haloes at redshifts $z>3$, to constrain the physical nature of the halo gas and the dominant powering mechanism for the Ly$\alpha$ radiation. (2) Identify significant overdensities in the distribution of Ly$\alpha$ emitters and test previous claims that Lyman-$\alpha$ halo properties depend on the environment. (3) Build a statistically significant sample of galaxies out to $z\simeq 1$ for spatially resolved kinematic and dynamical analyses. These new observations will triple the number of MUSE Deep Fields, provide statistically independent locations to combat cosmic sample variance, and substantially improve in image quality over our previous deep fields efforts through the use of Ground-Layer Adaptive Optics. The new Deep Fields will be embedded in small mosaics of $2^{\mathrm{h}}$--$5^{\mathrm{h}}$ depth to mitigate edge effects, characterise the environments, and to increase the general legacy value of this survey by covering the full footprints of the HST images.




\veils, the VISTA Extragalactic Infrared Legacy Survey, is a current ESO Public Survey, covering 9 sqrdeg of extragalactic legacy fields with deep, cadenced observations. The innovative aspect of \veils\ is its design enabling the first wide-field $J$ and $Ks$-band extragalactic time domain survey. The goal of this time-domain survey is to use two independent standardisable candles -- type Ia supernovae and AGN dust time-lags -- to significantly improve constraints of cosmological parameters in a complementary way to BAO, weak lensing, or the CMB. In addition, we will search for new members of a recently discovered class of optically-elusive, infrared-bright transients. Progress on the transient and variability science goals of \veils\ has been compromised in the 2018 season by the low data quality and low completion rate of its optical support survey \textit{VOILETTE} (= VEILS OptIcal Lightcurves of Extragalactic TransienT Events). Here we want to use the opportunity of VIRCAM and OMEGACAM being available for another \veils\ observing season to make up for 2018 to successfully complete the science goals of the survey, i.e. (1) discover, classify, and build light curves of new type Ia supernovae, (2) monitor the optical variability of AGN to determine dust time lags, and (3) support identification of infrared transients with and without an optical counterpart.




During the past decade, the field of exoplanets moved from extended searches to statistical studies and characterisation of individual planets. The scientific driver of low-mass planets, possibly located in the `habitable zones' of their host stars, makes the obtention of precise measurements of planetary masses, radii and densities, a critical endeavour. High-fidelity spectroscopy and high-precision radial velocities are an essential technique to obtain these quantities, while also enabling for the atmospheric characterisation of these objects. We pursue one of the main science goals of the ESPRESSO GTO: the detection and characterisation of Earth-mass planets (possibly) inside the habitable zone of G, K and M stars. We address it with 3 sub-programmes: (1) An intensive search for habitable rocky planets, built on the HARPS(-N) experience, in a sample of the most suitable stars -- some of which already hosting planets -- in the solar neighbourhood. (2) A survey for exoplanetary atmospheres, in the footsteps of HARPS(-N), through transit and reflected-light spectroscopy, exploiting the unique spectroscopic capabilities of ESPRESSO and the collecting area of the UTs. (3) A follow-up of the most challenging, i.e.\ low-mass candidates from K2 and the TESS mission by the Doppler technique, to obtain their precise densities. This proposal covers the second year of ESPRESSO GTO (exo-planets case).




{\bf Nearby old compact massive galaxies}, or relics, are thought to be local counterparts of red and dead compact massive galaxies at high-z, that missed the channels of galaxy size growth and passively evolved undisturbed since their first mass assembly. They {\bf represent the perfect local laboratories to study the mass assembly in the early universe. } So far only 3 systems have been found in the local universe and not many more are expected from simulations, which, however predict larger numbers at $z>0.1$. Thus, to start bridging the gap between these and the high-z systems, we built {\sl the largest catalog of spectroscopically confirmed ultra compact massive galaxies at intermediate redshift:} 100 red galaxies at $z<0.5$ with large masses (M$_{\star} > 8 \times 10^{10}$ M$_{\odot}$) and small sizes (R$_{\rm eff} < 2.0$ kpc). More than half of these (64) show evidence, from optical colors, of old stellar populations. {\sl They are the ideal candidates to be relic galaxies at intermediate redshift.} To unambiguously confirm the relic nature we need to prove that their ages are comparable to the age of the universe. Thus, {\bf we ask for 154 hrs on X-Shooter}, spread over 2 semesters, to obtain high signal-to-noise spectra of the relic candidates and precisely constrain their age, metallicity, elemental abundances and Initial Mass Function shape {\bf to characterize the stellar populations that populated the primitive Universe.}




An accurate measurement of the Hubble constant, H$_0$, is critical for the determination of all other cosmological parameters. The most recent determinations have revealed a 4.4$\sigma$ discrepancy between the local value of H$_0$, based on the distance ladder approach with Cepheid stars and type Ia supernovae, and the determination from the cosmic microwave background. If this holds up, then $\Lambda$CDM is not the complete model of the Universe. A measurement of the local H$_0$ which does not rely on the distance ladder represents a critical and independent check. We propose to use an extended version of the expanding photosphere method (EPM) of 12 type II-P supernovae to measure distances in the redshift range $0.04




The past 5 years have seen giant leaps in our understanding of circumstellar disks and planet formation. This is largely due to new capabilities of high spatial resolution observations in scattered light and mm-continuum emission. Where disks in previous decades were assumed to be smooth we now see that distinct features such as rings and spirals are ubiquitous. SPHERE is currently the best instrument worldwide to obtain scattered light observations of circumstellar disks. This has been done for many well known disks in the past few years. While scattered light observations of individual systems have produced spectacular results, we are missing out on the potential of unbiased disk surveys to probe the evolution of disk surfaces as ALMA surveys have done for the mid-plane. How is the appearance of a disk in scattered light linked to its evolutionary state? Are some features distinct signposts of planet formation? How does scattered light compare to dust continuum emission? All these are questions we want to answer with a dedicated survey of 85 young, nearby, disk-hosting stars. We in particular extend the parameter space to lower stellar masses and younger ages. Due to a new observation mode that was only recently commissioned we can now detect circumstellar disks and search for planets in the same systems simultaneously, making the proposed survey much more efficient than previous studies.




SPHERE, the VLT's new generation planet imager, provides exquisite exoplanet detection performance owing to a combination of high-order XAO correction, coronography, and differential imaging technics in visible and near-infrared. These capabilities enable the detection of faint planets at small angular separations from bright stars. The SHINE program for SPHERE High-contrast ImagiNg survey for Exoplanets, a significant component of the consortium Guaranteed Time Observations, is a large near-infrared survey of 400-600 young, nearby stars. The scientific goals are: i) to characterize known planetary systems (architecture, orbit, stability, luminosity, atmosphere); ii) to search for new planetary systems using SPHERE's unprecedented performance; and finally iii) to determine the occurrence and orbital and mass function properties of the wide-orbit, giant planet population as a function of the stellar host mass and age. Combined, the results will increase our understanding of planetary atmospheric physics and the processes of planetary formation and evolution. The present application is mostly focused on the second-epoch observations which are needed to infer the nature of several planet candidates (bound vs background objects).




Galaxies have undergone dramatic dynamical, morphological and chemical evolution over the past $\sim$8 billion years. It is predicted that environment is a key driver of this evolution 4 billion years ago ($z\sim0.3$), when there was the greatest diversity of evolutionary pathways between satellites and centrals. However this critical epoch is beyond the reach of existing Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) surveys. Current 3D spectroscopy of the \emph{stars and ionised gas} simultaneously has been limited to a short evolutionary window of $\lesssim 2$\,Gyr look-back time. \vspace*{0.1cm} To discern the drivers of galaxy transformation, we propose the \underline{M}iddle-\underline{A}ges \underline{G}alaxy \underline{P}roperties with \underline{I}ntegral Field Spectrograph (MAGPI) survey: a MUSE survey of 56 individual pointings to obtain spatially-resolved spectroscopy of stars and ionised gas for a representative sample of galaxies in a range of environments at 3--4\,Gyrs look-back time ($0.25 < z <0.35$). MUSE is the only instrument capable of building the large sample required to reveal the mechanisms responsible for the morpho-kinematic variety of today's massive galaxies. \vspace*{0.1cm} We bring together a strong and complementary team of experts from the high and low-redshift IFS communities (e.g.\ leaders of the SAMI and KMOS surveys) as well as theory and simulations experts to ensure that data and results are efficiently and meaningfully analyzed.




We propose to use 272 hours of VISTA time over the next 4 observing periods to complete and homogenize the ultra-deep $Y$-band imaging provided by the UltraVISTA survey over the full 1.5 $\times$ 1.2 deg VIRCAM field-of-view. To ensure a realistic achievable observing schedule, we will interleave this $Y$-band imaging with existing approved UltraVISTA $J$,$H$ and $K_s$ imaging in the COSMOS field, to complete the final UltraVISTA observing by summer 2021, and the final public legacy data product by summer 2022 (when the complete Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) deep imaging of the field at shorter wavelengths will also be public). This last additional investment in UltraVISTA only extends the survey by just over one year, but will: {\bf i)} deliver a complete and coherent legacy dataset, {\bf ii)} double the area in the field available for searches for luminous Lyman-break galaxies at $z \simeq 7- 8$ (for follow-up with {\it JWST}), {\bf iii)} enable us to take advantage of the subtle differences between the VIRCAM $Y$-band and HSC $y$-band filters to estimate the prevalence of Ly-$\alpha$ emission from galaxies at $z \simeq 7$ (a key indicator of the progress of cosmic hydrogen reionization), {\bf iv)} improve the accuracy of photometric redshifts in the COSMOS field across a broad range of cosmic time, and significantly enhance the already recognised value of the COSMOS/UltraVISTA field as a key calibration field for the {\it Euclid} Deep Survey.




Combining adaptive optics and interferometric observations results in a considerable contrast gain compared to single-telescope, extreme AO systems. Taking advantage of this, we propose VLTI/GRAVITY observations of all known young giant exoplanets located in the range of 0.1'' to 2'' from their stars. The observations will provide astrometric data of unprecedented accuracy, being crucial for refining the orbital parameters of planets and illuminating their dynamical histories. Furthermore, GRAVITY will measure non-Keplerian perturbations due to planet-planet interactions in multi-planet systems and directly measure masses. Over time, repetitive observations of the exoplanets at medium resolution (R=500) will provide a catalogue of K-band spectra of unprecedented quality, for a number of exoplanets. The K-band has the unique properties that it contains many molecular signatures (CO, H2O, CH4, CO2). This allows constraining precisely surface gravity, metallicity, and temperature, if used in conjunction with self-consistent models like Exo-REM. Further, we will use the parameter-retrieval algorithm petitRADTRANS to constrain the C/O ratio of the planets. Ultimately, we will produce the first C/O survey of exoplanets, kick-starting the difficult process of linking planetary formation with measured atomic abundances.



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Last update: OPO - August 4, 2020