Announcements 2011

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ann11029 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 7 June 2011
3 June 2011: As people see no connection between their everyday experience and the concepts of quantum mechanics, they usually perceive the subject as strange and complicated. Quantum mechanics is the theme of the next Café & Kosmos discussion on Tuesday, 7 June 2011: Dr Stefan Kluth, from the Max-Planck Institute for Physics, will show that quantum mechanics has much more impact on our daily life than it appears. He will also discuss how important the principles of quantum mechanics are for our understanding of astronomical observations. The Café & Kosmos series of discussions is organised jointly by ESO, the Excellence Cluster Universe and the Max-Planck Institutes for Physics, Astrophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics. The discussions take place on the second Tuesday of each month at the Vereinsheim, in Munich (please note the change of day and venue, as of May 2011). After a brief introduction the scientists take questions from the audience and ...
ann11028 — Announcement
"Extremely Large" opportunity for UK companies
20 May 2011: A special event has been held in London on 19 May 2011, at which officials from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) briefed UK companies on what they need to do to get involved in the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project. Around 60 UK businesses attended the event. As with companies from the other ESO Member States, British companies are being urged to bid for a share of a billion Euros that will be available in contracts for the E-ELT, which will be the biggest optical and infrared telescope in the world. The E-ELT will be a 42 metre telescope that will be a revolutionary tool in astronomy. Among other goals, it will have the task of tracking down Earth-like planets, capable of harbouring life, that orbit distant stars. Building the E-ELT will take more than just its state-of-the-art optics. The telescope is a major civil engineering project and will ...
ann11027 — Announcement
ESOcast 29: Running a Desert Town
12 May 2011: The Cerro Paranal site was chosen to host ESO’s flagship telescope, the VLT, because it is one of the driest and most remote places on Earth. This may make for excellent observing conditions, but the desert is a hostile environment. Water and vegetation are virtually non-existent, not to mention the lack of modern amenities such as power. How is it possible to run such advanced technology in this barren environment? And how does the site manage to support the staff and visitors at the Paranal Residencia? This episode of the ESOcast takes us behind the scenes of the Paranal Observatory and shows us how they overcome the immense challenges of life in the Atacama Desert. Watch more ESOcast episodes here. Credits ESO Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada Editing: Herbert Zodet Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida Written by: Herbert Zodet and ...
ann11026 — Announcement
New Territories for Science Outreach
11 May 2011: Public information officers, educators, science communicators, journalists, bloggers and professional and amateur astronomers are invited to attend or give talks at the 2011 Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP2011) conference, to take place between 10 and 14 October 2011 at the Xiyuan Hotel in Beijing, China. With online platforms boosting popularity and traffic, there is a whole new world building up in the social media and elsewhere online, a world where individuals become opinion leaders by owning and sharing information. For this new audience, traditional ways of communicating science are no longer enough. If science wants to keep up, it needs to learn how to communicate through the social media and online as well as continuing to come up with innovative and unconventional approaches in the offline world. CAP2011 will focus directly on how to bring science to the people of today and tomorrow. The major themes of the conference ...
ann11025 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 10 May 2011
3 May 2011: Black holes are probably the most exotic objects in astronomy: they are the most compact objects the Universe has to offer, they bend space and time and they hurl jets of matter out into the vastness of space at almost the speed of light. It is also interesting to consider the celestial objects associated with black holes: X-ray binaries, gamma-ray bursts, quasars and blazars. It is no wonder that they haunt the imaginations of science fiction authors. Black holes also play an important role in astrophysics; their influence on the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies has only become clear in recent decades. But can the existence of these extraordinary objects be explained? This and other fascinating questions will be addressed during the next Café & Kosmos on Tuesday, 10 May 2011, at 19:00, by the astrophysicist Andreas Müller (Excellence Cluster Universe, & TUM), who has been studying black ...
ann11024 — Announcement
Superb New Mirrors Bring Exoplanet Discoveries Nearer
28 April 2011: Three unique and remarkably perfect toric mirrors, which are a vital component for SPHERE, a new instrument at the VLT, have been successfully completed and tested. SPHERE is one of the second generation of VLT instruments and it will search for giant Jupiter-sized exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, using direct imaging. The mirrors were manufactured for SPHERE at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) in France. The mirrors are called toric because their surfaces have slightly different curvatures in different directions — like the surface of a large torus, or doughnut. Directly detecting exoplanets is one of the most exciting areas of modern astronomy, but it is also undoubtedly one of the most challenging. Sometimes likened to trying to spot a firefly against the overwhelming light of the Moon; the enormous contrast in brightness between the host star and the orbiting planets means that an extraordinarily sensitive and precise instrument is ...
ann11023 — Announcement
Spinstars: The First Polluters of the Universe?
27 April 2011: By studying some of the oldest stars in our galaxy, an international team of astronomers led by Cristina Chiappini [1] has used data from ESO’s Very Large Telescope to show that the first massive stars in the Universe were probably very fast rotators, which they have dubbed spinstars. Their findings will be published in an article in Nature on 28 April 2011. Massive stars live fast and die young, so the first generation of massive stars in the Universe is already dead. However, their chemical imprint, left behind like an incriminating fingerprint, can still be found today in the oldest stars in the Milky Way. These fossil records provide valuable clues about the mysterious first stellar generation to enrich the pristine early Universe. Soon after the Big Bang, the Universe was made almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. It was only enriched with other elements around 300 million years later ...
ann11022 — Announcement
First European ALMA Antenna Handed Over to Joint ALMA Observatory
21 April 2011: The first European antenna for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project has just been handed over to the Joint ALMA Observatory. The antenna, which has a dish 12 metres in diameter and weighs about 95 tonnes, was moved from the Site Erection Facility where it was assembled and tested, to the observatory’s Operations Support Facility (OSF). Although this was only a short trip between two adjacent sites at an altitude of 2900 metres in the foothills of the Chilean Andes, the move is nevertheless very important. “This move was just a short trip for this antenna, but it marks a big step for the project. This milestone is the result of many years of hard work by the engineering teams of the AEM Consortium [1] and by the ESO staff involved in following up the design, and the construction and testing activities in Chile,” says Stefano Stanghellini, the ALMA ...
ann11021 — Announcement
Light from all Four VLT Unit Telescopes Combined for the First Time
20 April 2011: On 17 March 2011 light collected by all four of the 8-metre Unit Telescopes of ESO’s Very Large Telescope was successfully combined for the first time using PIONIER [1], a new generation instrument in the VLT Interferometer. To have all four Unit Telescopes (UTs) finally working together as a single telescope is a major step in the development of the VLT — the original design always anticipated that the four 8-metre telescopes would be able to work either independently or together as part of the giant VLT Interferometer (VLTI). Coincidentally, the new observations took place on the 10th anniversary of the first successful combination of two beams within the VLTI. Among the main science goals for the four UTs, working together with PIONIER, are to try to reveal the signatures of planets in the making, to explore the natures and fates of stars by providing images of their surfaces and ...
ann11020 — Announcement
ESO and HISTORY Channel Join Forces to Share the Wonders of the Southern Skies
20 April 2011: The HISTORY TV channel network will broadcast a series of short films in Latin America featuring ESO telescopes. Viewers will have the chance to win a trip to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile and admire the southern skies from one of the best observing sites in the world. Starting today, and continuing until June, the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes will be presented every day on screen by HISTORY Latin America and HISTORY Brazil, letting up to 32 million households share the excitement and mystery of the Universe. Viewers will have the chance to participate in a special contest. Four lucky winners will get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of spending a night at the Paranal Observatory, and experiencing the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory for themselves. To participate, viewers must register on the competition’s website.To celebrate the fifth season of the documentary series “The Universe” currently being aired by ...
ann11019 — Announcement
ESOcast 28: How Amateur Astrophotographers Uncovered ESO's Hidden Treasures
19 April 2011: The observations from ESO’s powerful ground-based telescopes are veritable treasures, stored in a huge archive usually only visited by professional astronomers on a mission. And yet, an amateur astrophotographer from Russia managed to uncover a real gem from ESO’s Hidden Treasures, winning a trip to Chile to observe with the Very Large Telescope and take part in the observations. How did he manage it? And could you do the same? This podcast episode takes you behind the scenes of ESO’s Hidden Treasures competition and shows you how a group of determined and talented amateur astrophotographers managed to find and produce stunning astronomy pictures. Watch more podcast episodes of the ESOcast. More information Credit: ESO Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada. Editing: Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida. Written by: Oana Sandu, Sarah Reed, Olivier Hainaut and Herbert Zodet. Narration: Dr. ...
ann11018 — Announcement
Space Scoop: Astronomy News for Children
13 April 2011: Life has just become much easier for parents and educators dealing with enthusiastic children curious about astronomy! ESO has teamed up with the educational project Universe Awareness (UNAWE) [1] to produce Space Scoop — versions of its latest Science and Photo Releases that are written specifically for children aged between 7 and 11 years old. In a world where children are sometimes more technically savvy than grown-ups, Space Scoop is meant to feed their curiosity about the Universe, by allowing them to access ESO releases in their own language. “Astronomy is an incredibly dynamic subject; ESO astronomers continue to uncover new clues about how the Universe works, and we want to share the excitement of this journey of discovery with a younger audience,” says Lars Lindberg Christensen, Head of ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department. Parents can also use the service to read about the latest discoveries in astronomy and ...
ann11017 — Announcement
Science in School Issue 18 Now Available
8 April 2011: The latest issue of Science in School, the European journal for science teachers, is now available online and in print. Issue 18 marks five years since Science in School was launched in March 2006. The journal promotes inspiring science teaching by encouraging communication between teachers, scientists and everyone else involved in European science education, and every issue is jam-packed with informative articles. This issue features cutting-edge science news, teaching activities, science education projects, events, and much more besides. ESO contributions in this issue include news about the first super-Earth atmosphere being analysed by astronomers using ESO telescopes, and an account of a student winning an ESO prize in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which took him on the trip of a lifetime to the Very Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in Chile. Science in School is published by EIROforum, a collaboration between eight European intergovernmental scientific research organisations, ...
ann11016 — Announcement
Hot Off the Press: ESO and Industry
5 April 2011: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) operates some of the most powerful ground-based telescopes in the world. Building and maintaining such grand instruments requires external help, and ESO has forged many strong working relationships with industry to secure the necessary technical expertise. Since 2005, ESO has awarded contracts worldwide totalling more than 600 million euros, the vast majority of which have been placed with companies in the ESO Member States and Chile. You can find out more about ESO’s relationship with industry, as well as the opportunities that are available for the ESO Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), for which construction is due to begin by the end of this year, in the new printed flyer, ESO and Industry. To download a copy of the flyer, please go to
ann11015 — Announcement
The World At Night Comes to Santiago
4 April 2011: A prestigious worldwide photography exhibition called The World At Night (TWAN) — One People, One Sky will open to the public for one month from 8 April 2011, at Casas de Lo Matta cultural centre in Santiago, Chile [1]. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) produced a dedicated version for Chile of this non-profit exhibition, as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The exhibition has been touring around the country, and it is now returning to the capital city. It features a collection of stunning photographs of the world’s most beautiful and historic sites, set against a backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events. The TWAN photographs were taken by some of the world’s best night-sky photographers. ESO Photo Ambassador Stéphane Guisard contributed several outstanding images that were taken in Chile, such as The Milky Way over the Atacama Desert, Sunset at Paranal and Moon, Planets and Santiago. Furthermore, ...
ann11014 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 4 April 2011
31 March 2011: How can we observe what is invisible? How were the chemical elements formed? How do we describe the Universe as a whole? Do we even know all the components of the Universe? Dr Bruno Leibundgut, from the European Southern Observatory, will give an insight into the state of current research, and discuss these questions with the audience. The Café & Kosmos series of discussions is organised jointly by ESO, the Excellence Cluster Universe and the Max-Planck Institutes for Physics, Astrophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics. The discussions take place on the first Monday of each month at Café Jasmin in Munich. After a brief introduction the scientists take questions from the audience and discuss current issues from the cosmos. Please note that the Café & Kosmos events take place in German. What: What is the Universe? When: 4 April 2011, 19:00 until approximately 20:30 Where: Café Jasmin, Steinheilstrasse 20 (U2, Theresienstraße). Admission ...
ann11013 — Announcement
ALMA Invites Proposals for Early Science Observations
30 March 2011: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most ambitious radio astronomy observatory ever built, is announcing the first opportunity for the worldwide astronomical community to submit proposals for new scientific observations. Using just 16 of the 66 state-of-the-art antennas that will be in the completed array, it will already surpass the capabilities of all existing telescopes of its kind. ALMA is getting ready to make Early Science observations. In this phase, the telescope will be used for scientific research for the first time, even though it is still under construction. Until now, observations made with the telescope have been made purely to test that its systems work as expected. ALMA is being built in the Andes, on the Chajnantor plateau at an altitude of 5000 metres in northern Chile. By detecting light at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — light invisible to the human eye and optical telescopes — ALMA will ...
ann11012 — Announcement
Feel the Universe at Your Fingertips
28 March 2011: Access a universe of knowledge about the Universe with three new free iPad apps from ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD), available just in time for the iPad 2. The free ESO Top 100 Images app brings users a selection of the best astronomical images taken by a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes from the Atacama Desert in Chile. Astonishing views of distant galaxies and nebulae, amazing night-sky landscapes, first-class telescopes with lasers shooting into the sky transform the iPad into an exciting window to the Universe. Each image is explained in a caption with additional information just a tap away. In the slideshow mode the Top 100 can be contemplated with background music from Zero Project, while each high resolution image makes full use of the bright iPad screen when used as wallpaper. Feel the Universe at your fingertips by downloading the ESO Top ...
ann11011 — Announcement
ESO — World’s Most Productive Observatory for the Fourth Year
28 March 2011: A survey of scientific journals has shown that 2010 was the most productive year in ESO’s history. The ESO user community, using data from ESO telescopes, published more than 750 peer-reviewed papers. For the fourth year in a row, ESO is the most productive astronomical observatory in the world in terms of number of publications from its users. Counting the number of articles that are based on data from an observatory’s telescopes is an important indicator of how productive it is. As such, it is common practice for organisations like ESO to carry out regular reviews to determine their scientific productivity. ESO’s annual survey of the major scientific journals shows that, with a haul of more than 750 peer-reviewed papers published in 2010 by the ESO community, using data from ESO telescopes, the observatory has broken its previous record set in 2007. Every observatory uses slightly different methods to measure ...
ann11010 — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 143
21 March 2011: The latest edition of the European Southern Observatory’s quarterly journal, The Messenger, has been published. This issue features articles covering various ESO instruments and projects, including: A report on the results of ALMA radiometer testing — checking the array’s ability to correct the effect of water vapour on millimetre wavelength detections. An outline of the possibilities and goals for the upcoming VLTI astrometry instrument GRAVITY. A discussion on how we can use the strong appearance of ozone in the visible spectrum to hunt for exoplanets with Earth-like atmospheres. An article looking at how the SINFONI Integral Field Spectroscopy Survey will help us to understand how galaxies form. The results of the ESO Hidden Treasures astrophotography competition. The journal is available for download in PDF format. You can also subscribe to receive a free printed copy on The Messenger’s website.
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