Announcements

ann14026 — Announcement
Earthquake in Chile Causes No Damage or Casualties at ESO Observatories
2 April 2014: A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck northwest Chile at 20:46 local time (01:46 CEST) on Tuesday 1 April 2014. The epicentre was about 95 kilometres north-west of the city of Iquique. The earthquake has caused significant casualties and damage in coastal regions. Large parts of the Pacific coast were evacuated in response to tsunami warnings. ESO expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and its sympathy and support for all those affected by the earthquake. The epicentre was about 500 kilometres from both the ALMA/APEX and Paranal sites. No casualties among ESO staff have been reported, and no damage to any ESO facilities, but this is affecting staff with families and friends in the north of Chile. Some of the staff at Paranal come from the most affected regions in Iquique and Arica. To our knowledge all staff currently on site have in the meantime been able to contact ...
ann14025 — Announcement
The Messenger No. 155 Now Available
28 March 2014: The latest edition of ESO's quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. Find out the latest news from ESO on topics ranging from new instruments to the latest science discoveries. Highlights of this edition include: Laser Guide Star Facility upgrade The calibration of ALMA using radio sources The VIMOS Ultra Deep Survey: 10 000 galaxies to study the early phases of galaxy assembly at 2 < z < 6+ When VLT meets HST: The HUGS survey Celebrating 50 years of ESO in Chile Download The Messenger in PDF format or visit The Messenger website to subscribe and receive a free printed copy.
ann14024 — Announcement
New Countries Join ESO Science Outreach Network
28 March 2014: The ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON) has grown wider following the appointment of national representatives for Hungary, Serbia and Australia. The network now covers 30 countries, including the 15 ESO Member States. The core of the ESO website is now available in 21 different languages. Press releases are translated into 18 different languages, and the Pictures of the Week and announcements are also being made available in more languages. The nodes of the ESO Science Outreach Network act as ESO’s local media and outreach contacts, with the general aim of promoting ESO's mission and demonstrating the many inspirational aspects of astronomy. They also serve as contacts between the media and scientists in their local area and can also be approached in connection with ESO’s projects and other science outreach initiatives. The 30 countries in the ESO Science Outreach Network are the 15 ESO Member States: Austria, Brazil, Belgium, the Czech ...
ann14023 — Announcement
ESO Ultra HD Expedition Begins
27 March 2014: ESO's Ultra HD Expedition team have begun their journey to capture ESO's three unique observing sites in Chile in all their grandeur. ESO's videographer Herbert Zodet and three ESO Photo Ambassadors, Yuri Beletsky, Christoph Malin and Babak Tafreshi are equipped with powerful Ultra HD tools [1] supplied by the technology's front runners [2]. The expedition provides an opportunity to demonstrate this state-of-the-art technology and to deliver crisp, breathtaking Ultra HD footage — bringing the Universe closer than ever before. The team continues to share their personal accounts of their 17-day adventure on the ESO Ultra HD Expedition blog and you can follow their travels through the journey schedule as the expedition unfolds. The team have now reached ESO's Paranal Observatory in northern Chile, home to the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — ESO's flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. Next, they will drive to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ...
ann14022 — Announcement
ESOcast 64: First Ring System Around an Asteroid
26 March 2014: This episode of the ESOcast presents the recent discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. Telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile were used to make this surprise discovery in the outer Solar System. This unique finding has sparked much interest and debate since it is the smallest object by far to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. Astronomers think that this sort of ring is likely to be formed from debris left over after a collision. The story of this unique and unexpected discovery is told in ESOcast 64: First Ring System Around an Asteroid. More episodes of the ESOcast are also available. Find out how to ...
ann14021 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Press Conference in Brazil to Announce Discovery in Outer Solar System
25 March 2014: An international team of astronomers, led by Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), has used telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-metre Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, to make a surprise discovery in the outer Solar System. This unexpected result raises several unanswered questions and is expected to provoke much debate. A press conference will be held in Brazil to present the new results and allow opportunities for questions. Note that all information regarding these findings is under strict embargo until 19:00 CET (15:00 BRT) on Wednesday 26 March 2014. When: The conference will be held on 26 March 2014 at 14:30 local time (BRT) and will take place in Portuguese with a summary in English. Who: The conference presenters are: Felipe Braga-Ribas, Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Bruno Sicardy, LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Paris, France Prof. ...
ann14020 — Announcement
Powerful New Laser Passes Key Test
24 March 2014: A new 22-watt laser has now been accepted from the system supplier TOPTICA and its partner MPB following nearly five years of sustained collaboration and effort (see ann1045, ann1048, ann11039, ann12012 and ESOcast 34). This laser system will form part of the Adaptive Optics Facility at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) [1]. This laser, and four further similar units (including one spare) that will be delivered later, constitute key elements of the new facility and this acceptance marks a major step forward for the project. Five years ago the options for obtaining high power, reliable lasers in a compact format suitable for the requirements of the Adaptive Optics Facility were very limited. But now new technology and dedicated research and development have changed the landscape. After three months of acceptance testing at ESO, the project team was very happy with the performance of the new hardware, which holds great promise for simple ...
ann14019 — Announcement
Road to Armazones Started
14 March 2014: The civil works for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) have begun. The Chilean company, ICAFAL Ingeniería y Construcción S.A. (ICAFAL), has started construction of a road to the summit of Cerro Armazones. Currently there is no paved road from the public highway to the top of the mountain. The road construction work is expected to take 16 months and will provide access to the summit for the future construction work on the giant telescope. Once complete, the road will be 11 metres wide in total, with an asphalt paved driveway of 7 metres width.  ICAFAL will also be responsible for the levelling of the top of the mountain later this year and additional civil works. The peak must be modified to create a platform to construct the telescope and other supporting facilities. The start of telescope operations is planned for early in the next decade, when the E-ELT will ...
ann14018 — Announcement
ESO Remains World’s Most Productive Ground-based Observatory
14 March 2014: A survey of the number of peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2013 using data from ESO’s telescopes and instruments has shown that ESO remains the world’s most productive ground-based observatory. Astronomers used observational data from ESO facilities to produce 840 refereed papers last year. The number of papers published from ESO data in 2013 has even remained slightly higher than the number of papers using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Nearly 70% of all papers credited to ESO in 2013 used data acquired using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) or VLT Interferometer facilities. The most productive VLT instruments in terms of papers remain FORS2 and UVES. X-shooter also showed a steep increase in the number of publications and has produced a total of almost 170 papers from 2010 to 2013. Other facilities at the La Silla Paranal Observatory — including the survey telescope VISTA at Paranal, as well ...
ann14017 — Announcement
Incoming President of Chile Michelle Bachelet Meets Senior ESO Representatives
12 March 2014: The ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, together with ESO Council President Xavier Barcons, ESO Representative in Chile Fernando Comerón, and Director of Operations Andreas Kaufer met Michelle Bachelet, the incoming President of Chile, on 10 March 2014, the day before her inauguration. The delegation passed on their congratulations, and looked forward to a fruitful and productive collaboration between ESO and its host nation. This meeting took place at the Academia Diplomática de Chile (Diplomatic Academy of Chile) where Michelle Bachelet also held meetings with several high level organisations and delegations from all over the world who had been invited to the ceremonies marking the handover of power in Chile.    Later in the afternoon, Fernando Comerón and Tim de Zeeuw attended an official reception with the outgoing President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, at the Palacio de La Moneda in Santiago, where they had the opportunity of personally thanking him ...
ann14016 — Announcement
Win a trip to Paranal in the Photo Nightscape Awards 2014
7 March 2014: ESO invites you to take part in the first edition of the Photo Nightscape Awards (PNA) —  an international photo nightscape competition to celebrate astrophotography. As a partner in the competition organised by Ciel et Espace Photos, ESO will award the winner of the professional category with a trip to Paranal, home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and part of the Paranal-Armazones complex, which is under construction.   For this first edition of the awards, the categories “Pro” and “Espoir” (Hope) will be available. The Pro category is open to all photographers from across the world who have already published or sold any photographs, whereas the category Espoir is for photographers that hold French nationality and who have previously neither sold nor published their photographs. Those who wish to take part in the competition should submit a registration form and, if they are under age, a parental consent form. ...
ann14015 — Announcement
French Actress Juliette Binoche and Irish Actor Gabriel Byrne Visit ESO’s Chilean Sites
4 March 2014: Award-winning French actress Juliette Binoche and Irish actor Gabriel Byrne visited ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile on 22 February 2014. Juliette Binoche then travelled on to visit ALMA on 24 February. Famed for their performances in many successful films, Juliette Binoche and Gabriel Byrne expressed an interest in visiting the most prominent observatories during their free time in northern Chile. They are currently shooting an upcoming film named The 33 — based on the dramatic true story of the miners who were successfully rescued after many weeks trapped underground following an accident at the San José mine in 2010. The actress and actor were hosted at Paranal by ESO's Director of Administration Patrick Geeraert and ESO's Representative in Chile Fernando Comerón. Arriving in time to watch the sunset at Cerro Paranal on 22 February, they saw the opening of the VLT domes as they prepared for the night ahead. Juliette Binoche and Gabriel ...
ann14014 — Announcement
ESOcast 63: Flexible Giants — The Evolution of Telescope Mirrors
19 February 2014: In our latest episode of the ESOcast, we delve into the history of telescope mirrors and their evolution over time. Enormous telescope mirrors allow astronomers to peer much deeper into the night sky than the tiny light-collecting area of the human eye permits. In this episode, the reason for the ever-growing size of telescopes is explored as the story behind these flexible giants is told. The challenges of building larger yet lighter mirrors have paved the way for innovative thinking and have consequently led to telescope designs such as ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). To find out how and why such designs revolutionised telescope mirror design, explore the past, present and future of telescope mirror design in ESOcast 63: Flexible Giants — The Evolution of Telescope Mirrors. More Information The ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest ...
ann14013 — Announcement
Exoplanet Imager SPHERE Shipped to Chile
18 February 2014: SPHERE — the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument — is a powerful new facility for finding and studying exoplanets. The instrument has recently successfully completed testing in France, passed preliminary acceptance by ESO, and has now been shipped to Chile. It will then be installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and first light is foreseen for May 2014. SPHERE was built by a consortium of astronomers and engineers in many ESO states in conjunction with industry [1]. The consortium is led by the Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, France. SPHERE’s main goal is to find and characterise giant exoplanets orbiting nearby stars by direct imaging [2]. This is an extremely challenging task as such planets are both very close to their parent stars in the sky and also very much fainter. In a normal image, even in the best conditions, the light from the star totally swamps ...
ann14012 — Announcement
Austrian Superfast Adaptive Optics Algorithms for the E-ELT
13 February 2014: As part of the Austrian contribution when it joined ESO, a specialist team from institutes in Linz [1] has developed adaptive optics algorithms and software methods that are much faster than those using more traditional approaches. These methods are used for the correction of images that are degraded due to atmospheric turbulence — and are in particular intended for use with the future 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The challenging goal was to invent a new and different approach to this problem that is as effective as current techniques while, at the same time, greatly reducing the computing load on the computer that performs the calculations. This four-year project has just completed a very successful final review. The new adaptive optics algorithms are very fast and provide excellent quality results. This leads to enormous savings in computing power required to handle adaptive optics data from the E-ELT. But probably ...
ann14011 — Announcement
3D Printing of VLT Components
10 February 2014: ESO has recently utilised the innovative technology of 3D printing [1] to manufacture moulds for the casting of two new telescope components. These are required for the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and are part of the Adaptive Optics Facility project. The 3D printing technique offers great promise in the manufacture of complex custom items, which are often needed in astronomical instrumentation, delivering the components more quickly and cheaply, and with greater flexibility. The first item, which was manufactured by the German firm voxeljet AG, is the structural part of a new sensor arm [2] that was installed in the telescope to work with the MUSE instrument. This change was also needed to accommodate the GALACSI adaptive optics module to be installed in 2015. The sensor arm is a metallic structure that is used to hold three flat mirrors [3], which feed light beams into ...
ann14010 — Announcement
Improved Adaptive Optics Mirror Delivered
4 February 2014: In December 2011, the French company Safran–Reosc delivered their first thin shell Zerodur mirror to ESO (ann12015). The company has now topped this by delivering a second shell mirror [1] of even higher quality than the first. Both mirrors are a mere 2 millimetres thin but 1.12 metres in diameter, and will be crucial for the upgrade of Unit Telescope 4 of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to a fully adaptive system [2]. A thin shell mirror is deformed several thousand times per second to compensate for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere. The result is a much sharper image, allowing astronomers to study the Universe in greater detail than possible before. The new shell features many improvements. It has a surface accuracy that is better by a factor of five than the older one and very small forces are needed to correct the shape of the mirror’s surface, half that ...
ann14009 — Announcement
Girls' Day Event at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany
31 January 2014: On 27 March 2014, ESO will participate in Germany’s nationwide Girls’ Day activities. The annual event sees technical enterprises, universities and research organisations open their doors to female school students, in order to provide an insight into science and technology professions. Such open days help girls to make well-informed decisions about their future and encourage them to choose careers in science and technology. The ESO Girls’ Day, An Introduction to the Work of the European Southern Observatory, comprises a series of talks in German and question-and-answer sessions with ESO staff and students. Many aspects of astronomy and engineering (optics, mechanical engineering, construction, software engineering etc) will be covered. To conclude this introduction to the world’s most productive astronomical observatory, there will be a live video link to ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). Located 2600 metres above sea level on Cerro Paranal, the VLT is the world’s most advanced optical instrument ...
ann14008 — Announcement
ALMA Transporter Online Game Now Available
30 January 2014: Have you ever wanted to try driving one of the huge ALMA transporters? If you answered “yes” to that question, then there is good news! A simple new multi-player game called Chajnantor: Race Against Time now gives you the chance to be at the controls of a transporter and to explore the top of the Chajnantor Plateau. Race the 130-tonne behemoths against the clock, or against another player, to try to successfully place the ALMA antennas at the required locations. Or maybe you just want to take a relaxing drive and take in the views of the starry night sky. The choice is yours! Play Chajnantor: Race Against Time in your web browser here as a Unity-based game. The game is also available in a stand-alone version (for Windows) with slightly higher quality. Download the game here. The game was designed and written by ESO engineer Juan Antonio Marrero Hernández in ...
ann14007 — Announcement
Introducing the ESO Ultra HD Expedition
27 January 2014: ESO has launched a pioneering expedition into the Ultra High Definition Universe. This campaign will document the travels and work of four world-renowned astrophotographers and ESO Photo Ambassadors as they journey through the Chilean Atacama Desert, equipped with the powerful tools of imaging technological leaders. ESO’s videographer Herbert Zodet and the three Photo Ambassadors, Yuri Beletsky, Christoph Malin and Babak Tafreshi embark on their expedition with the goal of capturing footage at ESO’s three unique observing sites in all their grandeur — using state-of-the-art Ultra High Definition 4K still and video cameras The team will first travel up to Paranal, home to ESO’s flagship facility Very Large Telescope array (VLT), before continuing to ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array at 5000 metres above sea level. Their trip will finish at La Silla, ESO’s first observatory in Chile. The team will capture crisp Ultra High Definition time-lapse images, stills, videos and ...
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