Messenger No. 103 (March 2001)

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Reports from Observers

1-1 (PDF)
J. Alves et al.
Seeing the light through the dark

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Alves, J.; Lada, C.; Lada, E.
AA(European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany) AB(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge MA, USA) AC(University of Florida, Gainsville FL, USA)

Telescopes and Instrumentation

2-4 (PDF)
A. Gilliotte
La Silla telescope status, a great achievement on image quality performances

ADS BibCode:
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Gilliotte, A.
Nowadays almost all La Silla telescopes deliver very good image quality, routinely achieving sub-arcsec images. In some cases, the theoretically predicted performances of the telescope is matched, or the limitations are at least understood. The image quality, however, is not only a function of the telescope optical set-up, it is also highly dependent on the cleanliness of the optical surfaces.
4-7 (PDF)
A. Gilliotte
Image quality improvement of the 2.2-m

ADS BibCode:
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Gilliotte, A.
On the very first period of operation of the 2.2-m telescope, a direct CCD camera was offered to the community. With a pixel size of 0.35 arcsec and a small field of 3 arcmin, the telescope image quality was never reported as being bad or showing asymmetric, elliptical images. In the mid-1990s, a new imaging instrument called EFOSC2 was installed at the telescope. Observers soon began seeing variable image elongations across the full field, which were later identified as coming from the instrument and not the telescope. Meanwhile, the optical quality of the telescope was measured to be as good as 0.35 arcsec d80% close to zenith, using our portable Shack- Hartmann called Antares. The optical quality of the EFOSC instrument was strongly dependent on the precision with which focus had been achieved, and subsequent variations with temperature. The EFOSC camera focus did not include temperature compensation as was the case with EFOSC1 on the 3.6-m. The focus degradation introduced field curvature and increasing astigmatism as one moved off-axis. Optical quality tests with EFOSC after refocusing the camera and performing a careful thorough focus sequence reestablished the instrument and telescope quality within the resolution delivered by the two pixels sampling 0.7 arcsec.
7-9 (PDF)
O. Hainaut
News from the NTT

ADS BibCode:
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Hainaut, O.
At the time this is being written, the NTT is running very nicely. While this is how the NTT is supposed to behave, it has not been the case during the last month. Indeed, on January 16, it was detected that one of the 4 main azimuth motors had died. The team immediately started to reconfigure the drive system to operate without that motor (in case of emergency, we can run on 2 motors only). During that process, a second motor died! We decided to stop the operation and shut down the telescope to investigate; indeed, while we can survive with 2 motors, we cannot afford to kill one per day. The two faulty motors have been removed, our (single) spare installed, and the electronics started to perform a complete check of all the system driving the motors. In that process, it was discovered that a third motor presented some minor signs of damages.
9-9 (PDF)
H. Jones
2p2 Team News

ADS BibCode:
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Jones, H.
AA(ESO Chile)
In December we welcomed Emanuel Galliano to our team. Emanuel is a French student at ESO Chile who is already familiar with La Silla, through his previous work with the DENIS group. He will be working primarily on operations at the 2.2-m. In February, however, we bade farewell to Emanuela Pompei after nearly two years with the team. Although Emanuela is leaving La Silla, she will remain with ESO in Chile, commencing work as a Staff Astronomer on Paranal in March. We wish her all the best in her move north.
10-14 (PDF)
H. Jones et al.
Tunable filters and large telescopes

ADS BibCode:
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Jones, H.; Renzini, A.; Rosati, P.; Seifert, W.
AA(ESO Chile) AB(ESO Garching) AC(ESO Garching) AD(Landessternwarte, Heidelberg)
Traditionally, astronomy has relied upon filters with a fixed bandpass to select the wavelengths of the light allowed to reach the detector, thus allowing the astronomer to derive some colour information about the objects under study. In the optical, these filters are most often classical broadband UBVRI, or narrow passbands centred at the wavelengths of the common emission-line features, either at rest-frame or redshifted wavelengths. Examples of the latter are becoming numerous, especially on the 8–10-mclass telescopes that make it possible to detect very faint, distant emissionline objects, even through narrow passbands. In this vein, Kurk et al. (2000) used FORS1 at the VLT with a 65-Åwide filter at 3814 Å to image a z = 2.2 radio galaxy, searching for nearby Lyalpha detections at the same redshift. They detected around 50 such objects, collectively suggestive of strong clustering around the dominant radio galaxy. Moreover, they also found extended Ly-alpha emission (~ 100 kpc in extent) centred on the galaxy, adding further evidence to the possible scenario of protocluster formation.
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Reports from Observers

21-24 (PDF)
F. Comerón, M. Fernández
Strong accretion and mass loss near the substellar limit

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Comerón, F.; Fernández, M.
AA(ESO, Garching, Germany) AB(Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Granada, Spain)
We present our observations of a very late-type faint member of the R Coronae Australis star-forming cloud that displays an unusually rich emission-line spectrum, similar to that of more massive counterparts, in which both accretion and outflow signatures coexist. This is the latest-type object for which such an intense emission-line spectrum has been observed so far. The late-type spectrum and the faintness of the underlying object suggest that it is near or below the borderline separating stars from brown dwarfs, showing that such spectacular spectral signatures can be present even at masses of a few percent of a solar mass.
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24-26 (PDF)
J. U. Fynbo et al.
Star formation at z=2-4: going below the spectroscopic limit with FORS1

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Fynbo, J. U.; Møller, P.; Thomsen, B.
AA(European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany) AB(European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany) AC(Institute of Physics and Astronomy, University of Århus, Århus, Denmark)
The population of bright galaxies at z = 2–4 has been studied intensively using the Lyman-Break technique (Steidel et al. 1996; Cristiani et al. 2000). Currently, redshifts can be determined from absorption features of galaxies selected in this way down to R P 25.5 (e.g. Steidel et al. 2000), which is commonly referred to as the spectroscopic limit. Currently, very little is known about the galaxy population below the spectroscopic limit. This is an unfortunate situation since all the information on the chemical enrichment of young galaxies (Damped Ly-a Absorbers) accessible through QSO absorption lines seems to be valid mainly for galaxies significantly fainter than R = 25.5 (Fynbo et al. 1999; Haehnelt et al. 2000). In order to select and study galaxies fainter than the current spectroscopic limit, one has to rely on other selection criteria than the Ly m a n - Break. Two promising possibilities are (i) to select galaxies with Ly-a emission lines, and (ii) to study the host galaxies of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs).
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27-27 (PDF)
H. Jones et al.
Discovery of a bow-shock nebula around the pulsar B0740-28

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Jones, H.; Stappers, B.; Gaensler, B.
AA(ESO Chile) AB(University of Amsterdam) AC(MIT)
Bow-shock nebulae around highvelocity pulsars provide our primary insight into the interaction between a pulsar and its surrounding environment. Specifically, optical observations of such nebulae allow us to derive full three-dimensional pulsar velocities which are extremely important for the birth rates and evolution of pulsars. They can also provide important information on the density, temperature and composition of the surrounding ambient medium. Unfortunately, only a few bow-shock nebulae have been discovered, despite there being nearly a thousand pulsars known from radio surveys. We have therefore commenced a search for pulsar bow-shocks, using the results to characterise the properties of the associated pulsars, pulsar winds and ambient environments.
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28-31 (PDF)
L. Testi et al.
Young stellar clusters in the Vela D molecular cloud

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Testi, L.; Vanzi, L.; Massi, F.
AA(Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Florence, Italy) AB(European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile) AC(Osservatorio Astronomico di Teramo, Teramo, Italy)
It is now well established by means of direct and indirect observations that most, if not all, stars are formed in groups rather than in isolation (Clarke, Bonnell & Hillenbrand 2000). An important result that strongly constrains theories of massive star and stellar cluster formation is that the stellar density of young stellar clusters seems to depend on the mass of the most massive star in the cluster. Low-mass stars are usually found to form in loose groups with typical densities of a few stars per cubic parsec (Gomez et al. 1993), while high-mass stars are found within dense stellar clusters of up to 104 stars per cubic parsec (e.g. the Orion Nebula Cluster, Hillenbrand & Hartmann 1998). To explain this different behaviour, it has been proposed that massive stars may form with a process that is drastically different from the standard accretion picture, e.g. by coalescence of lower mass seeds in a dense cluster environment. The transition between these two modes of formation should occur in the intermediate-mass regime, namely 2 <= M/M0 <= 15.
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31-36 (PDF)
P. Amram, G. Östlin
Building luminous blue compact galaxies by merging

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Amram, P.; Östlin, G.
AA(Observatoire de Marseille, France) AB(Stockholm Observatory, Sweden)
Observations of six luminous blue compact galaxies and two star-forming companion galaxies were carried out with the CIGALE scanning Fabry-Perot interferometer attached to the ESO 3.6-m telescope, targeting the Hα emission line. The gaseous velocity field presents large-scale pecularities, strong deviations to pure circular motions and sometimes, secondary dynamical components. In about half the cases, the observed rotational velocities are too small to allow for pure rotational support. If the gas and stars are dynamically coupled, a possible explanation is either that velocity dispersion dominates the gravitational support or the galaxies are not in dynamical equilibrium, because they are involved in mergers, explaining the peculiar kinematics. In two cases, we find evidence for the presence of dark matter within the extend of the Hα rotation curves and in two other cases we find marginal evidence. For most of the galaxies of the present sample, the observed peculiarities have probably as origin merging processes; in five cases, the merger hypothesis is the best way to explain the ignition of the starbursts. This is the most extensive study as yet of optical velocity fields of luminous blue compact galaxies.
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36-36 (PDF)
ESO Vacancy - Applications are invited for the position of - Head of the Office for Science

ADS BibCode:
Reports from Observers
Assignment: A strong research-oriented scientific staff with diverse expertise is essential to fulfil ESO’s mandate of providing and maintaining international competitive observatories for its community of users. In this context the Head of the Office for Science will be responsible to the Director General for the science policies, and the main tasks will be:

Other Astronomical News

37-37 (PDF)
EIS Data on the Chandra Deep Field South Released

ADS BibCode:
Other Astronomical News
The purpose of this note is to announce that the ESO Imaging Survey programme has released a full set of optical/infrared data covering the socalled Chandra Deep Field South (CDF-S) rapidly becoming a favoured target for cosmological studies in the southern hemisphere. The field was originally selected for deep X-ray observations with Chandra and XMM. The former have already been completed producing the deepest high-resolution X-ray image ever taken with a total integration time of one million seconds. The data obtained by EIS include J and Ks infrared observations of an area of 0.1 square degree nearly matching the Chandra image down to JAB ~ 23.4 and KAB ~ 22.6 and UU’BVRI optical observations over 0.25 square degree, matching the XMM field of view, reaching 5 s limiting magnitudes of U’AB = 26.0, UAB = 25.7, BAB = 26.4, VAB = 25.4, RA B = 25.5 and IA B = 24.7 mag, as measured within a 2 ´ FWHM aperture.


38-38 (PDF)
Personnel Movements

ADS BibCode:
38-38 (PDF)
ESO Studentship Programme 2001

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The European Southern Observatory research student programme aims at providing the opportunities and the facilities to enhance the post-graduate programmes of ESO member-state universities by bringing young scientists into close contact with the instruments, activities, and people at one of the world’s foremost observatories. For more information about ESO’s astronomical research activities please consult Research Projects and Activities ( or
39-39 (PDF)
A Challenge for Astronomers, Engineers in the Field of Software, Electronics and/or Mechanics

ADS BibCode:

40-40 (PDF)

ADS BibCode:
40-40 (PDF)
Scientific Preprints (January – March 2001)

ADS BibCode:
1408. E. Scannapieco and T. Broadhurst: Linking the Metallicity Distribution of Galactic Halo Stars to the Enrichment History of the Universe. ApJ Letters.