Announcements

ann12053 — Announcement
ESOcast 46: Catching Light
1 August 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. ESOcast 46 is the sixth special episode of this series. It describes how state-of-the-art cameras and spectrographs help ESO’s powerful telescopes collect and analyse the faint light from the distant Universe. Without these instruments, ESO’s eyes on the sky would be blind. Today’s astronomical images are very different from those from the 1960s. Back then, astronomers used large photographic glass plates, which were not very sensitive and hard to handle. Nowadays, ESO’s telescopes use some of the largest and most sensitive electronic detectors in the world. They catch almost every cosmic photon and recover almost every possible bit of information. For instance, the VLT Survey Telescope’s camera — OmegaCAM — has 32 detectors, which team ...
ann12052 — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 148
30 July 2012: The latest edition of ESO’s quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. Find out the latest from ESO, with topics ranging from new telescopes and instruments to the latest discoveries. Highlights include: A report on the progress of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project. A description of POPIPlaN, an image catalogue of newly discovered southern planetary nebulae. A study of massive stars beyond the Magellanic Clouds using the X-shooter spectrograph. The story behind the use of renewable energy at the Paranal Observatory.
ann12051 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 10 July 2012
6 July 2012: with Dr Ralph Blumenhagen (Max Planck Institute for Physics) String theory is a framework for a unified description of all forms of matter, and of all the interactions between them. It started with a very simple theory, namely that all the fundamental objects are tiny, oscillating strings. The mathematical analysis of that hypothesis leads to a completely new approach to theoretical physics, in which our common notions of space and time are completely challenged. The Strings 2012 conference will take place in Munich at the end of July, and will bring together the world specialists in string theory. On 10 July 2010, Dr Ralph Blumenhagen (Max Planck Institute for Physics) will discuss the themes and the future results that he expects from this exciting research field with Café & Kosmos guests. Please note that the Café & Kosmos events take place in German. What: String theoryWhen: Tuesday, 10 July 2012, ...
ann12050 — Announcement
ESOcast 45: Reaching out
2 July 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. ESOcast 45 — Reaching Out — is the fifth special episode of this series. In it we focus on ESO’s mission of curiosity, wonder and inspiration, proclaimed through cooperation and outreach. Indeed, cooperation has always been the basis for ESO’s success, ever since the organisation was founded fifty years ago. Together, ESO’s Member States enable the best possible astronomical science at the world’s largest observatories. ESO also works closely with industry, universities and research institutes around the world in developing state-of-the-art technologies. Furthermore, through engagement with the public, ESO provides countless ways to participate in the discovery of the cosmos, inviting everyone to join this exciting adventure. Watch this episode to discover more about how, ...
ann12049 — Announcement
ESO Annual Report 2011 now available
2 July 2012: The ESO Annual Report 2011 is now available. It presents the many activities of the European Southern Observatory throughout the last year, covering topics including: Research highlights from ESO facilities, with the latest results from fields such as exoplanets and planet formation; the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way; the study of active galactic nuclei; the first stars; and the reionisation of the Universe. A summary of the activities of ESO’s telescopes. The status of the astronomical instruments at the La Silla Paranal Observatory, describing in detail new instruments and upgrades. The latest news from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) projects.
ann12048 — Announcement
Self-steering Mars Rover tested at ESO’s Paranal Observatory
20 June 2012: When ESA wanted to test concepts for future Mars roving vehicles they needed a landscape as similar to the surface of Mars as possible. The Atacama Desert at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile fitted the bill perfectly. Rovers on Mars cannot be driven directly from Earth — it takes radio signals up to 40 minutes to make the trip to Mars and back. Instead, they are given instructions to carry out autonomously. But current rovers can only move slowly and need frequent updates from Earth. The ESA team is testing concepts that will allow future rovers to travel much further on their own. ESO’s Paranal Observatory acted as host for the rover experiments and provided welcome respite for the team and its equipment during the cold and windy nights. For two weeks the team put the prototype rover, called Seeker, into action within a particularly Mars-like zone not far ...
ann12047 — Announcement
Science in School Issue 23: Out Now!
18 June 2012: The latest issue of the free magazine Science in School is now available online and in print. The European journal dedicated to science teachers and educators offers numerous interesting articles and activities for students. Many exciting topics are covered in issue 23, including science education projects in which students can build their own radio telescope or seismograph at school, or study solar and lunar eclipses in the classroom. Cutting-edge science is also featured, in articles on research into how cancer can be triggered when chromosomes are torn apart, and why some people are born exhibiting features of both sexes. Other articles explain how solar cells offer an alternative source of energy, report the experiences of a teacher at CERN, reveal how mathematics is found where you might not expect it, and explain how an expedition to Antarctica could help in planning a mission to Mars. Science in School is published ...
ann12046 — Announcement
World Renowned Astrophotographer Serge Brunier Blogs Live from ESO’s Observatories
18 June 2012: World renowned astrophotographer and ESO Photo Ambassador, Serge Brunier, has returned to ESO’s observatory sites in Chile and this time he is sharing his experiences on a live blog hosted by the Skypix Science et Vie website. The blog posts are available in English and in French. You can also follow Serge’s adventures on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #ESOlive. Serge was at the La Silla Observatory, located on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres. On this site ESO operates some of the most productive 4-metre-class telescopes in the world. After La Silla, Serge is heading further north in Chile to the Paranal Observatory, home of the Very Large Telescope and nearby Cerro Armazones, where ESO will be building the European Extremely Large Telescope — the world’s biggest eye on the sky.
ann12045 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Invitation to ESO@50 Science Workshop
15 June 2012: Media representatives are invited to attend the ESO@50 scientific workshop, an event organised in celebration of ESO’s 50th anniversary. ESO@50 will take place between 3 and 7 September 2012 at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. Some of the most prominent scientists from Europe and around the world will participate. During the 5-day workshop journalists will have the opportunity to join the astronomers to get an overview of the main scientific topics where observations at ESO facilities have contributed to major progress in astronomy, from Solar System astronomy to fundamental physics. Original perspectives on the scientific challenges of the coming decades will also be presented. Interviews with participants will also be possible. Among the invited speakers are: Richard Ellis: ESO's impact on ground-based astronomy Marijn Franx: High-redshift clusters and proto-clusters Reinhard Genzel: The Milky Way centre Alvio Renzini: How ESO changed astronomy in Europe A full list is available ...
ann12044 — Announcement
Foundation Stone Laid for ESO Headquarters Extension
11 June 2012: On 11 June 2012 at 18:00, a ceremony took place at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, to mark the laying of the foundation stone of a major new extension to the ESO building. A time capsule containing a scroll listing the names of the ESO Council delegates, the latest issue of The ESO Messenger and a copy of a local newspaper for the day was also sealed and placed in the foundations during the ceremony. The Headquarters extension will feature an office building, a technical building and a covered bridge that will connect the new buildings to the original Headquarters. The buildings will make extensive use of natural light sources and there will be two inner courtyards. This striking and innovative design is in keeping with the current building and retains the same curved shapes. Further details about the building are available here: eso1215. The new office building, ...
ann12043 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 12 June 2012
11 June 2012: with Dr. Anita Winter (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, MPE) Cosmic X-rays give us important information about high-energy events happening in the Universe. But to observe this type of energetic radiation astronomers need to work with satellites equipped with powerful telescopes, whose mirrors consist of numerous concentric shells. Traditional methods for manufacturing these shells led to heavy mirrors, which is a major restriction as they need to be launched into space. The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) has developed a new, special technique using glass panes, which results in significantly lighter mirrors and thus enables the construction of telescopes with larger collecting surfaces. On 12 June, Dr. Anita Winter (MPE) will discuss the opportunities and challenges that these new technologies are bringing. Please note that the Café & Kosmos events take place in German. What: Technology of the future for new X-ray telescopesWhen: Wednesday, 12 June 2012, ...
ann12042 — Announcement
ALMA Telescope Upgrade to Power New Science
5 June 2012: Before its construction is even completed, the new telescope ALMA — the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — is embarking on an upgrade that will help astronomers investigate the earliest galaxies and search for water in other planetary systems. The oversight board for ALMA has authorised the design and building of an additional set of receivers with state-of-the-art performance, which will enable the telescope to access a part of the spectrum of light that it cannot currently study. ALMA is the world’s largest astronomy project, and this powerful new facility on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile is giving astronomers insight into both how the Universe and its galaxies have evolved since the Big Bang, and how stars and planetary systems formed in our own galaxy. Although only half of its final total of 66 antennas are currently in place at the high-altitude site in northern Chile (see ann12035), ALMA is already ...
ann12041 — Announcement
ESOcast 44: Changing Views
5 June 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. ESOcast 44 — entitled Changing Views — is the fourth special episode of this series. Since its birth, fifty years ago, ESO has helped to improve our knowledge of the Universe by means of successive generations of powerful optical ground-based telescopes. But there are other ways to collect the light from distant objects. In this episode, we discover how ESO has helped astronomers to explore the Universe at longer wavelengths, such as the infrared and radio regimes. The human eye is only sensitive to a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We are not able to see light with wavelengths longer than red, or shorter than violet. But by observing the sky at longer wavelengths, ...
ann12040 — Announcement
Presidential Summit to take place on Paranal
4 June 2012: On Wednesday 6 June, the Presidents of four Latin-American countries will gather at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance is due to take place. Paranal is the home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. Presidents Sebastián Piñera of Chile, Ollanta Humala of Peru, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Felipe Calderón of Mexico will hold a meeting to ratify the Framework Agreement of the Pacific Alliance, to promote regional integration and higher growth, development and competitiveness between the Member Countries of the Alliance, with the aim to move progressively towards the goal of achieving free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. Representatives from Costa Rica and Panama were invited as observers, and officials from Canada, Japan and Australia were also invited as guests. The President of the ESO Council, Xavier Barcons, the Director ...
ann12039 — Announcement
Communicating Astronomy With the Public Journal Issue 12 Now Available
31 May 2012: The 12th issue of the free peer-reviewed journal for science communicators, Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAPjournal), is now available for download. One of the highlights of the issue discusses the different tools science communication specialists use to gauge how well they reach their target audiences — in other words, how they know what actually works. Another article is focused on the Mars Crowdsourcing Experiment, a crowdsourcing project that investigates whether the players of a computer game can support scientific research by tagging surface features on Mars. Also in this issue, there is an article on the project Multiverso, a cultural initiative in which an astronomer and a rock musician team up, combining their passions to create awareness about astronomy. Since late 2009, the project has reached tens of thousands people in Spain through various events such as the release of an album and a set of concert-talks.
ann12038 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Ceremony to Mark Laying of Foundation Stone of ESO Headquarters Extension
31 May 2012: On 11 June 2012 at 18:00, a ceremony will be held at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, to mark the laying of the foundation stone of a major new extension to the ESO building. The innovatively styled new office building, designed by architects Auer+Weber+Assoziierte, will allow ESO to bring all its Garching staff, some of whom are currently in temporary offices or other buildings on the Garching campus, back together on a single site. The building will be the cradle of the technological innovations needed for ESO’s ambitious projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope (further details are available here: eso1215). The event will coincide with the meeting in Garching of ESO’s governing body, the ESO Council. Representatives of the ESO Member States will be present, as well as the ESO Director General, and representatives of the local authorities and the town of Garching. Members of the ...
ann12037 — Announcement
Nobel Prize-Winning Laser Technology to Help Find Earth-like Planets
30 May 2012: The new technology of laser frequency combs (eso0826) [1] has now been tested with the HARPS [2] planet-finder on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Frequency combs provide reference light sources of extraordinary stability and have the potential to allow HARPS and similar instruments to make much more precise measurements than is currently possible [3]. This novel technique is expected to become a revolutionary tool for the astronomical community and help astronomers to find Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around nearby stars. The results are being presented in a paper to appear in the 31 May 2012 edition of the journal Nature.A team of scientists from ESO, the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ, Garching, Germany) and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC, Tenerife, Spain) — led by Tobias Wilken, a researcher at MPQ — has used a laser frequency comb to ...
ann12036 — Announcement
Tycho Brahe Prize 2012 Awarded to Reinhard Genzel
30 May 2012: The European Astronomical Society [1] has announced that the 2012 Tycho Brahe Prize has been awarded to Professor Reinhard Genzel, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to European near-infrared instrumentation and for groundbreaking work in galactic and extragalactic astronomy. German astronomer Reinhard Genzel — director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics — and his team were responsible for building SINFONI, a near-infrared integral-field spectrograph attached to the ESO Very Large Telescope. Since its first light in 2005, SINFONI has become a key instrument for the study of the structure and dynamics of distant galaxies and, in particular, of the dynamics of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. His team has been involved in an unprecedented 20-year-long study of the movement of stars around the galactic centre, which is based on observations made with ESO’s New Technology Telescope at La Silla Observatory as well as ESO’s Very Large Telescope ...
ann12032 — Announcement
ESO Awards Contract for E-ELT Adaptive Mirror Design Study
22 May 2012: ESO has taken a further step towards the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) by awarding the preliminary design study contract for the adaptive fourth mirror (M4) of the E-ELT to the AdOptica consortium made up of ADS International (Italy) and Microgate (Italy) [1]. This mirror will be a major milestone in adaptive optics technology, becoming the largest adaptive mirror ever made for a telescope. It will be crucial for exploiting the E-ELT’s unprecedented potential, allowing astronomers to achieve major scientific breakthroughs during the next decades. The M4 mirror is part of the E-ELT’s adaptive optics system, which will be responsible for correcting the blurring effects produced both by turbulence in the atmosphere, and the effects of wind on the telescope structure. When installed this remarkable deformable mirror will allow the E-ELT to reach the theoretical maximum resolution possible in its observations [2].The M4 flat mirror will be ...
ann12035 — Announcement
Halfway There: 33 ALMA Antennas on Chajnantor
15 May 2012: On the Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile, construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most complex ground-based astronomy observatory in the world, continues apace. On 12 May 2012, another ALMA antenna was carried up to Chajnantor, bringing the total on the plateau to 33. This marks a half-way point for ALMA, as the telescope will have a total of 66 antennas when completed in 2013. The giant antennas, fifty-four of them with 12-metre-diameter dishes, and twelve with 7-metre-diameter dishes, use sensitive receivers to detect millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light from the cosmos. The first of the antennas made the trip up to the 5000-metre-altitude Array Operations Site in September 2009 (see eso0935). Now, as ALMA approaches completion, antennas are arriving at an increasing rate. The state-of-the-art ALMA antennas, which weigh about 100 tonnes each, need a custom-constructed transporter vehicle to move them between the Operations Support Facility and the higher ...