Science Announcements

A Message from the ESO Director General on the Occasion of the Conference Celebrating 50 Years of Catherine Cesarsky’s Career in Astronomy

Published: 13 May 2021

It is a great pleasure for me to congratulate, on behalf of the entire ESO community, former Director General Catherine Cesarsky (1999-2007) on the occasion of the 50 years since her PhD defense. This marked the beginning of a career of outstanding scientific achievements and leading contributions to the development of world-class astronomical observatories. Her period as ESO Director General saw the development of Paranal from early operations into a mature observatory, the beginning of ALMA construction, and the definition of the ELT project, to name just a few of the transformational highlights achieved by ESO under her leadership. Also during this period, five new Member States joined ESO. I am pleased to invite ESO’s community to join the online conference being organized by the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA), which will take place on 14 and 15 June 2021, to celebrate Catherine Cesarsky’s career thus far.

Xavier Barcons, ESO Director General

Olivier Chesneau Prize 2021 Awarded to Mathias Nowak

Published: 11 May 2021

The 2021 Olivier Chesneau Prize has been awarded to Mathias Nowak for his doctoral work entitled: "The 2017 conjunction of Beta Pictoris b: the Life and Death of PicSat, followed by a VLTI/GRAVITY observation of the re-emergence" that was successfully defended in 2019 at the Observatoire de Paris.

MAVIS Science Workshop, Online, July 5-9th, 2021

Published: 07 May 2021

MAVIS (MCAO Assisted Visible Imager and Spectrograph) is a forthcoming facility instrument for the ESO’s VLT AOF (Adaptive Optics Facility, UT4 Yepun) currently starting Phase B. With its unique parameter space, MAVIS is foreseen to cover broad science cases, from solar system objects to high redshift galaxies, as highlighted in the current MAVIS Science Case. This workshop aims at bringing together the scientific community and discussing the key science cases where MAVIS will have a strong impact due to its unparalleled capabilities, as well as identifying the areas where it will provide unique synergies with existing and forthcoming facilities such as ELTs and JWST. The workshop is an opportunity to engage the community and push forward the MAVIS project.  

First Data Release from the GALACTICNUCLEUS Survey

Published: 06 May 2021

The goal of GALACTICNUCLEUS survey (ESO Large Programme 195.B-0283, PI Rainer Schödel) is to build a single-epoch, high angular resolution (0.2”) source catalogue of the Galactic Centre in the near infrared band J,H,Ks. Data were acquired with HAWK-I between June 2015 and June 2018. They covered seven regions spread over the nuclear stellar disk, the inner Galactic bulge and the transition region between them, for a total area covered of about 0.3 deg2. The final catalogue includes accurate PSF photometry for 3.3x106 stars. The 5-sigma limiting AB magnitude for the different NIR bands are  J~22, H~21 and Ks~21. The released catalogue also provides absolute coordinates for all the sources.

Release of Pipeline-Processed ESPRESSO 1D Spectra Products

Published: 29 Apr 2021

ESPRESSO is a highly-stabilised fibre-fed echelle spectrograph that can be fed with light from either a single or up to four Unit Telescopes simultaneously. It is installed at the incoherent combined Coudé facility of the VLT. Nearly 2000 spectra obtained in all instrumental modes (HR, UHR, and MR) from the start of operations until March 2020 are now published via the ESO archive. The data consist of extracted, wavelength-calibrated and flux-calibrated 1-dimensional spectra with merged echelle orders. If several exposures on the same target are executed within the same observing template,  the extracted and flux-calibrated spectra of the single exposures are combined into a co-added spectrum with increased signal-to-noise ratio. The combined spectrum becomes the primary product, while the single spectra are made available as associated files. The reduced science spectra come with an associated set of ancillary information which are described in detail in the accompanying release description.

La Silla Paranal Update: Further Reduction of Operations Activities

Published: 20 Apr 2021

Due to the evolution of the pandemic situation in Chile, operational activities at Paranal have been further reduced as of April 16 and until at least May 7. Operations are now limited to two of the four UTs (baseline UT4 and one of UT123, according to operational and scientific requirements). No VLTI or survey telescope operations are taking place. La Silla remains operating only the NTT, and APEX in a 8/24hr scheme. Further information can be found in the La Silla Paranal Observatory News webpage.

ESO Period 108 Proposal Submission Statistics

Published: 19 Apr 2021

The deadline for proposal submission for Period 108 (1 October 2021 - 31 March 2022) was 25 March, 2021. 948 valid proposals were submitted, including 37 Large Programmes. On the VLT the most requested ESO instrument was MUSE with a request of 452 nights, followed by X-Shooter with 344 nights. HARPS on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope was the most demanded instrument at La Silla (and third most demanded instrument overall), with 265 nights.

Applications for ESO Studentships – First Annual Call

Published: 19 Apr 2021

The ESO research studentship programme provides an outstanding opportunity for PhD students to experience the exciting scientific environment at one of the world's leading observatories. ESO's studentship positions are open to students enrolled in a university PhD programme in astronomy or related fields. Students accepted into the programme work on their doctoral project under the formal supervision of their home university, but they come to ESO to work and study under the co-supervision of an ESO staff astronomer for a period of between one and two years.

First Commissioning of the upgraded IRLOS, the InfraRed Low-Order Wavefront Sensor for MUSE

Published: 16 Apr 2021

Between 11 and 24 March the Assembly, integration, verification and commissioning of the upgraded InfraRed Low-Order wavefront Sensor of MUSE, IRLOS, was carried out through an efficient collaboration between the local Paranal team and the remote support team in Garching. The goal of the upgrade, which uses a new SAPHIRA detector with sub-electron readout noise, is to add at least two magnitudes to the limit for the wavefront sensing while simultaneously increasing the correction rate to 500 Hz. The 500Hz SmallScale mode of the new IRLOS system is in operations with a fully automated acquisition since the beginning of Period 107 with a limiting magnitude of J=17.0 for point sources. This fainter magnitude limit is offered for P108 and proposals submitted during P107. Prior to this commissioning MUSE Narrow Field Mode could use as AO reference stars brighter than H=14.5, with the sensing done at a fixed 200Hz with field-selector scales for point-sources, SmallScale, and extended objects, LargeScale.

ESO Science Archive: 10,000,000 Processed Science Files Downloaded … and Counting!

Published: 16 Apr 2021

March 17th marked an important milestone for the ESO Science Archive with the download of the 10,000,000th processed science file by a member of the ESO community. The Science Archive is a major science resource: more than 35% of the refereed papers based on ESO data that were published in 2020 used it. Its data holdings are constantly increasing, and it currently includes more than 3,000,000 processed datasets from the La Silla Paranal and ALMA observatories, calibrated to remove instrumental and atmospheric effects. These are spectra, images, data cubes, source catalogues, flux maps and interferometric visibilities (the 10,000,000th file itself was a spectrum from the GAIA-ESO Public Survey). These data products can be browsed and downloaded via an highly interactive and intuitive web application or programmatically with Virtual Observatory protocols and tools

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