Announcements

ann1098 — Announcement
ESO Takes Delivery of State-of-the-art Receiver that will Help ALMA See “Water, Water Everywhere…”
15 December 2010: The world’s most sensitive receiver for radio waves with wavelengths around 1.5 millimetres has been delivered to ESO. Its final destination is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), which is under construction 5000 metres above sea level in northern Chile, on the Chajnantor plateau. ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile, and ESO is the European partner in ALMA. The receiver — operating in a wavelength range known as Band 5 at ALMA — will allow scientists to trace water vapour in the nearby Universe, and will also provide an unprecedented view of the most distant galaxies. The delivery is an important milestone for the project for ALMA Enhancement of Early Science, funded by the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The project has developed new technologies from scratch in just five ...
ann1097 — Announcement
Live Webcams at ESO
13 December 2010: Four web cameras have been placed at the ESO sites, allowing anyone to see ESO’s advanced telescopes in action and admire the fascinating Milky Way over one of the driest deserts in the world at any time. The 24/7 live transmission from the webcams offers multiple streams that are not to be missed: VLTCam: Follow astronomers and engineers as they work at the VLT — the largest visible-light telescope in the world — and see how the four Unit Telescopes are operated or maintained. ALMACam: Spot the ALMA antennas as they are being built and tested by ESO and partners. The camera looks through the hot dry air of the Atacama Desert at the Operations Support Facilities near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. APEXCam: Watch the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope at an elevation of 5100 metres, at one of the highest observatory sites on Earth. La Silla NightCam: Admire ...
ann1096 — Announcement
Science in School Issue 17 Now Available
10 December 2010: The latest issue of Science in School, a free science education journal, is now available. The many exciting articles in this issue cover topics such as the science of humour, the phenomenon of supercooling, experiments at the nanoscale and a classroom project for transmitting music by laser. ESO’s own Dr J (a.k.a. Dr Joe Liske), star of the ESOcast and Hubblecast video podcasts, talks in an article about his passion for astronomy, and his role in The Eye 3D, a 3D film about ESO’s Very Large Telescope in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Science in School is published by EIROforum, a collaboration between eight European intergovernmental scientific research organisations, of which ESO is a member. The journal addresses science teaching both across Europe and across disciplines: highlighting the best in teaching and cutting-edge research.
ann1095 — Announcement
Season's Greetings from ESO
8 December 2010: Click here for a special seasonal greeting from everyone at the European Southern Observatory!  This year has heralded many new discoveries, facilitated by the ESO telescopes, including the thought-provoking find of a distant planetary system that resembles the Solar System. Using the HARPS spectrograph attached to ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile, astronomers detected up to seven planets in orbit around a Sun-like star (eso1035). And an unusual interloper — an exoplanet that entered the Milky Way from another galaxy — was found by a European team of astronomers using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla (eso1045). In 2010 astronomers went far beyond just discovering such distant worlds. Amongst many new findings, astronomers used ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert, Chile, to detect the first spectrum of an exoplanet (eso1002) directly and to analyse, for the first time, the atmosphere of ...
ann1094 — Announcement
ESO's Very Large Telescope Goes 3D on German Television
7 December 2010: National Geographic has acquired the rights for Das Auge 3D (The Eye 3D), the first three-dimensional documentary produced in Germany [1]. The film will be broadcast on SKY 3D on 9 December at 20:15 (local time) in 3D television and again during the same evening at 21:10 (local time) on the German National Geographic Channel in 2D, bringing the story of the most powerful visible-light telescope in the world, ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), directly into people’s homes. The Eye 3D — Life and Research at Cerro Paranal stars ESOcast host Dr J, aka Joe Liske, who takes viewers on an exciting tour, introducing the magnificent telescope itself and the advanced techniques in use at Paranal, as well as taking a look at the daily life of astronomers, engineers, physicists and technicians working at the ESO sites. The documentary has recently won several awards, including the Gold Award in the ...
ann1093 — Announcement
ESO 2011 Calendar is Out Now
3 December 2010: The European Southern Observatory’s 2011 calendar has been released and can now be ordered through the ESO shop. Beautifully designed and featuring exquisite images of astronomical objects, ESO installations and landscapes, it will appeal to all those who enjoy the beauty of nature and appreciate the ability to plan ahead. For added convenience, lunar phases are indicated. The calendar measures 42 x 42 cm and has 14 pages, with a cardboard back. It is delivered in a cardboard box. To order a download version or a printed copy of the calendar and see example images, please visit: http://www.eso.org/public/products/calendars/cal2011/
ann1092 — Announcement
ESO's Online Store is Open for Business
2 December 2010: Forget about painstakingly printing out and filling in order forms, you can now buy our entire range of fantastic ESO products with the click of a button [1]. The non-profit online ESOshop [2] offers a quick, easy and secure way to purchase merchandise — everything from books and posters about ESO’s telescopes and observational targets, to caps and lapel pins branded with the organisation’s official logo. With the holidays just around the corner, the ESOshop is the perfect place to browse for gifts for all astronomy enthusiasts. To visit the store, go to: http://www.eso.org/public/shop/ Educators and bona fide members of the press can order products for free from this website: http://www.eso.org/public/shop/freeorder/ One copy of each of ESO’s brochures, reports and educational materials (excluding posters, books and DVDs) can also be picked up in person for free at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching, Germany. Notes [1] Payment must be made by credit ...
ann1091 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 6 December 2010
2 December 2010: The Universe contains a dark secret: most of the matter, whose presence is revealed by its gravitational effect, does not emit or absorb any light. Today, we have good reasons to assume this “dark matter” is made of a new type of elementary particle that interacts only very weakly with the light and with ordinary matter. For the past 25 years, we have explored different strategies to bring light into this darkness, and to elucidate the physical nature of dark matter. During the next Café & Kosmos, Dr. Georg Raffelt (Max-Planck Institute for Physics) will explain the justifications for the existence of dark matter, mention candidates from particle physics, and discuss possible strategies to search experimentally for dark matter. 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 ...
ann1090 — Announcement
Adriaan Blaauw, 1914–2010
2 December 2010: Professor Adriaan Blaauw, the European Southern Observatory’s second Director General, and a key figure in ESO’s early history, died yesterday, 1 December 2010, at the age of 96. “Adriaan Blaauw was one of the most influential astronomers of the twentieth century. I had the privilege to be amongst his students when he returned to Leiden from his position as Director General. He continued to remain keenly interested in everything to do with ESO, and still had his characteristic twinkle in the eye when he visited La Silla and Paranal earlier this year. It is hard to grasp that he is no longer with us,” said ESO’s current Director General, Professor Tim de Zeeuw. Adriaan Blaauw was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1914. He studied astronomy at Leiden University, under de Sitter, Hertzsprung and Oort, and obtained his doctorate with van Rhijn at the Kapteyn Laboratory in Groningen in 1946, ...
ann1089 — Announcement
Summary of International Year of Astronomy 2009 Released
26 November 2010: The brochure, called the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Final Report Executive Summary, offers an overview of the many events that took place during the Year, as detailed in full in the 1450-page IYA2009 Final Report, which was released earlier this year. “Tens of thousands of events were held during IYA2009, but unfortunately there is only space in this Executive Summary to mention a small handful,” says Catherine Cesarsky, chair of the IYA2009 Working Group, and the IAU President for most of IYA2009. “We’ve included a diverse cross-section of events that are representative of the Year, but they should not be viewed as a ‘best of IYA2009’. We are grateful to everyone who took part in IYA2009 and we would like to say thank you to you all." The print-ready files and source files (Adobe InDesign file and images) are also available for IYA2009 stakeholders to adapt for use in ...
ann1088 — Announcement
Astrophotography Conference at ESO in Chile
23 November 2010: The growing and prolific community of photographers of the night sky in Chile will gather at the first Southern Astrophotography Conference (Congreso Austral de Astrofotografía, CAA), to be held on the ESO premises in Santiago, on 26–27 November 2010. This event — supported by ESO, Universidad Diego Portales and ACHAYA (Chilean Association of Astronomy and Astronautics) — aims to become an inspiration for the region. It includes as keynote speakers, the ESO Photo Ambassador Stephane Guisard, the Belgium astrophotographer Daniel Verschatse and the Chilean astrophotographers Joaquín Pérez and Guillermo Yáñez, among others. But not only professionals and seasoned amateurs are invited to attend. Enthusiastic beginners equipped with just a digital camera can discover simple techniques to capture the majesty of our cosmos. The general public will also have the opportunity to meet senior astrophotographers during an open session on Friday, 26 November. This open session is free of charge and ...
ann1087 — Announcement
The First Methane Dwarf Orbiting a Dead Star
23 November 2010: An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes and other facilities to discover and study a unique and exotic star system comprised of a very cool, methane-rich (or T-) dwarf star and a “dead” white dwarf star in orbit around each other. The system is a “Rosetta Stone” for T-dwarf stars, giving scientists a way of finding the mass and age of this old methane dwarf. The team, led by Dr Avril Day-Jones of the Universidad de Chile and composed of astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire (UK), and the University of Montreal (Canada), is publishing its results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The system is the first of its type to be found. Methane is a fragile molecule destroyed at warmer temperatures, so is only seen in very cool stars and giant planets like Jupiter. Neither giant planets nor T-dwarf stars are massive ...
ann1086 — Announcement
ESO Virtual Tours Reloaded
19 November 2010: Version 2.0 of the ESO Virtual Tours brings higher quality views of the ESO facilities in Chile, as well as more background information incorporated through web links and pictures, allowing everyone to explore the sites of the most productive observatory in the world. Version 2.0 is also iOS compatible, making the tours available to iPod, iPhone and iPad users. Currently, three Virtual Tours have been upgraded: La Silla, Paranal-Armazones and Chajnantor, but in 2011 most of ESO sites and offices will be opened for exploration in ESO’s Virtual Tours archive. ESO Virtual Tours take visitors on a walk around the Very Large Telescope’s platform as the Sun sets over Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun, the four Unit Telescopes. From here, visitors can enter the dome of UT1 or Antu, examine the dust and rocks of the arid Atacama Desert or switch to night mode and admire the Milky Way and ...
ann1085 — Announcement
Media Advisory: ESO Holds Virtual Press Conference to Announce Unique New Planet
18 November 2010: An international team of astronomers has used facilities at ESO’s La Silla observatory to discover a truly unique and surprising planetary body (eso1045). An online press conference to announce the new results and offer journalists the opportunity for discussion with the scientists will be held at 15:00 CET on Thursday, 18 November 2010. To participate in the teleconference and receive additional material under embargo, bona-fide members of the media must get accredited by contacting Richard Hook by email (rhook@eso.org). Journalists must clearly state in the email that they agree to honour the embargo and will not publish or discuss the research until after 20:00 CET on Thursday 18 November 2010. Reporters will need access to a computer with a recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed and an adequately fast internet connection. Further information will be provided to the accredited reporters.
ann1084 — Announcement
European X-ray Free-Electron Laser joins EIROforum
8 November 2010: At the autumn 2010 Council Meeting of the EIROforum, a partnership of seven European Research Organisations — including ESO — with large research infrastructures, the Directors General unanimously accepted the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL), based in Hamburg, to become its eighth member. The European XFEL is an international research facility that will use ultra-short X-ray flashes to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional images of the nano-world, film chemical reactions and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. XFEL is currently under construction, with commissioning being planned for 2014.
ann1083 — Announcement
ALMA Santiago Central Office handed over
5 November 2010: The Santiago Central Office headquarters of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project have been officially handed over in the Vitacura district of the Chilean capital. Construction of the new building, which is adjacent to ESO’s Santiago offices and was built by ESO as part of its responsibilities as the European ALMA partner, has been completed. The handover ceremony took place on 5 November 2010. The ceremony was attended by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, and the ALMA Director, Thijs de Graauw. The new building has a size of almost 7000 square metres over two storeys. It has more than 100 offices, as well as other facilities such as meeting rooms, an auditorium, and underground parking for 130 cars. The underground parking will allow some of the previous above-ground parking spaces to be replaced with green areas. As part of the construction, fourteen trees already on the site ...
ann1082 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 8 November 2010
4 November 2010: Astronomers need patience: at the next Café & Kosmos Dr Stefan Gillessen will explain how astrophysicists at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics found a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy — after collecting 16 years worth of data. This black hole is four million times more massive than our Sun, but it doesn’t shine. During a clear night, you can easily see the star-spangled band of the Milky Way. However its centre is hidden behind dense gas and dust clouds, but astronomers can use modern infrared cameras to penetrate this veil and observe the stars at the galactic centre. Just as the planets orbit the Sun, these stars orbit an invisible object. Why does this have to be a black hole? Why do we think that all galaxies harbour such gravity monsters? Come to Café & Kosmos and find out! The Café & Kosmos series of ...
ann1081 — Announcement
Light from Four Telescopes Combined at ESO's Paranal Observatory
4 November 2010: Light coming from the four 1.8-metre Auxiliary Telescopes at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) based in Paranal, Chile, has been successfully combined for the first time using a new visiting instrument called PIONIER [1]. This is an important step towards unleashing the full potential of the VLTI to use multiple telescopes together to reveal fine detail in distant objects. A joint team from Grenoble LAOG [2] and ESO achieved this very challenging feat of engineering only five days after unpacking the equipment on the mountain. The VLTI engineers had to control the distance traversed by the light from the widely separated telescopes with an accuracy of about one hundredth of the thickness of a strand of human hair. Once the light reached PIONIER, it was then channelled into the heart of the instrument: a remarkable optical circuit [3], smaller than a credit card, that finally brought ...
ann1080 — Announcement
Press Invitation to Launch of EVALSO, An Important Advance in Communications for Remote Latin American Observatories
28 October 2010: On Thursday 4 November 2010, ESO’s powerful telescopes, which are located in a remote and barren desert landscape in Chile, will become more accessible than ever to astronomers in Europe, thanks to a new high-speed data link. Members of the press are invited to attend the launch of the new communications data link and to view a demonstration of the technology from the project site in the middle of the Atacama Desert. The high-speed data link is part of the Enabling Virtual Access to Latin American Southern Observatories (EVALSO) project. Previously, data from instruments at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) were sent back via a microwave link to a base station near the Chilean city of Antofagasta and from there to Santiago. This link supports a data transfer rate of only 16Mbit/s, but, since ESO’s VISTA telescope saw first light in December 2009, the Paranal Observatory now produces over 100 ...
ann1079 — Announcement
Electric Supercar on Pan-American Marathon Races to ESO’s Very Large Telescope
28 October 2010: The SRZero supercar, one of the most advanced electric vehicles ever created, sped to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope on 27 October as part of its ambitious trek down the Americas. This was a remarkable meeting of two technological masterpieces that are both examples of the finest inventions that have taken humanity to the limits of the possible, both on this planet and beyond. Astronomers, journalists, engineers and other lucky guests enjoyed the extraordinary spectacle of this eco-friendly supercar revving around the four Unit Telescopes, bathed in glorious sunset light before the observatory domes opened to begin the night’s observations. The SRZero electric supercar is a project carried out by students from the Racing Green Endurance (RGE) team from Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab, sponsored by KPMG and supported in Chile by the British Embassy. The 400-bhp twin-motor vehicle is touring the full 26 000 km length of the ...
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