ESO Remains World’s Most Productive Ground-based Observatory

5 March 2015

A survey of the number of peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2014 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 864 refereed papers last year, equalling the all-time high of 2012. The number of papers published from ESO data in 2014 has even remained slightly higher than the number of papers published based on data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Nearly 65% of all papers credited to ESO in 2014 used data acquired with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) or VLT Interferometer facilities. The most productive VLT instruments in terms of papers are UVES and FORS2 with VIMOS in third place. In addition GIRAFFE and SINFONI both show strong upwards trends.

The VISTA survey telescope on Paranal provided data for almost twice as many papers as in 2013. FEROS, SOFI and WFI also saw increases, while HARPS remains La Silla’s most productive instrument. Facilities located at La Silla provided data for more than 260 papers in total.

The total number of papers based on European observing time with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has climbed substantially to a total of 104 at the end of 2014.

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX), operated by ESO on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama region — a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the Onsala Space Observatory and ESO — has seen a slight increase in ESO publications since last year, with more than half of all the papers published resulting from ESO observing time.

The methods used to obtain these numbers vary across the different observatories, so the figures cannot always be compared precisely. However, ESO continues to significantly surpass any other ground-based observatory and remains slightly ahead of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. These results highlight ESO’s major contributions to astronomical research. The publication statistics give an idea of how much scientific work is carried out with data from the individual observatories, but do not address the wider impact they have on science.

The figures are published in the annual Basic ESO Publication Statistics [1] published by ESO’s Library and calculated using the ESO Telescope Bibliography (telbib), a database containing refereed publications that use ESO data [2]. ESO makes extensive efforts to identify all refereed papers that use ESO data and considers telbib essentially complete.

Interactive graphs of selected statistics are also available online. These graphs display the entire content of the telbib database [3], which contains records for publications from the year 1996 to the present. They can be used to explore many aspects of the publication history, including the development of science papers using data from ESO instruments and the use of archival data.


[1] Basic ESO Publication Statistics

[2] Tellib information and access to the database

[3] Interactive telbib statistics


Uta Grothkopf
ESO Librarian
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6280

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

About the Announcement



Number of papers published using observational data from different observatories
Number of papers published using observational data from different observatories
Number of papers published using observations from ESO facilities
Number of papers published using observations from ESO facilities