Austrian Involvement with ESO

December 2012

Austria signed the accession agreement to join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on 30 June 2008 and the membership was ratified by the Austrian Parliament on 1 July 2009.

Contracts totally close to 7 million euro have been awarded to Austrian industry since it joined the organisation. This sum includes Austrian companies that may have acted as sub-contractors when the prime contractors were in a different country..

Discoveries by Austrian astronomers using ESO telescopes

Austrian astronomers and astronomers working at Austrian institutes were involved in the following scientific discoveries that resulted in ESO science press releases:

  • S. Kimeswenger (Institut für Astrophysik der Universität Innsbruck) was part of the team that discovered a high-mass star forming via accretion through a circumstellar disc, i.e. through the same channel as low-mass stars (eso0416). The formation process for massive stars was a mystery until this discovery.
  • S. Schindler (University of Innsbruck, now ESO) contributed to the discovery of a few hundred clusters of galaxies, by observing their emission in the X-Ray wavelengths with ROSAT; the redshifts of these clusters were measured at La Silla (eso0419)
  • R. Dvorak (University of Vienna), and H. Lammer and J. Weingrill (Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Science), were part of the team that, through the longest set of HARPS measurements ever made, has firmly established the nature of the smallest and fastest-orbiting exoplanet known at that time, CoRoT-7b, with a mass of  only five times that of Earth's (eso0933). The team also measured, for the first time,  the properties of a “normal” exoplanet, combining observations from HARPS and from the CoRoT satellite (eso1011).
  • J. F. Alves (Calar Alto Observatory, Spain and University of Vienna) contributed to the discovery that a small spiral galaxy has been cannibalised by giant galaxy Centaurus A, using a new observation technique on the NTT (eso0944)
  • I. Brott (University of Vienna) was part of the team that  has picked up the fastest rotating star found so far. This massive bright young star is located in Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light-years from Earth; it may have been ejected from a double star system by its exploding companion (eso1147).
  • J. Donatowicz (Technical University of Vienna) was part of a large team that used the technique of gravitational microlensing to measure how common planets are in the Milky Way. After a six-year search that surveyed millions of stars, the team concludes that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The results appeared in the journal Nature on 12 January 2012 (eso1204).
  • F. Kerschbaum and C. Paladini (University of Vienna) contributed to the team  that has discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris using ALMA. This was the first time that such a structure, along with an outer spherical shell, was found around a red giant star. The strange shape was probably created by a hidden companion star orbiting the red giant. This work is one of the first ALMA early science results to be published and it appeared in the journal Nature in October 2012 (eso1239).

Additional Involvement

Austria also played a role in several education, outreach, technical and political projects with ESO, some of them even before it became an ESO Member State, some as a member state of  ESA and/or CERN, of which Austria was already a member. These projects include AstroVirTel (eso0014), the EIROforum educational project “Physics on Stage” (eso0035 and eso0309), in collaboration with EAAE, the  “Catch a star” educational competitions in 2006 (eso0642), 2007 (eso0721, eso0746), and 2008 (eso0814). The FWF and ESO were among the founding members of the ASTRONET network of funding agencies (eso0744).

The Universities of Innsbruck and Vienna were formal partners in the near IR sky survey DENIS (ESO Messenger 87, 27 (Epchtein et al.)) (before and parallel to 2MASS) which used the ESO 1-metre telescope full-time from 1994 on. Innsbruck and Vienna contributed to the software.

Vienna University was also a formal partner in the TIMMI2 instrument at the ESO 3.6-metre telescope: (eso0113 and ESO Messenger 102, 4) and contributed software.

For the future, the University of Vienna is a formal partner of the MATISSE consortium.

Number of Austrian astronomers and staff working at ESO

As of December 2012 there are six Austrian nationals employed at ESO or working as students. Five are in Garching and one in Santiago in Chile.

Austrian contributions to ALMA

Eight contracts and subcontracts related to the construction of ALMA with a total value of nearly one million euros have been placed with the Austrian companies listed below in decreasing order of the size of the contract.

The "ALMA 23 kV" Consortium (two subcontracts to Austria)

DUPLEX S. A. (subcontracted to Austria)

Altova GmbH (two contracts)

AHLBORN Meß-u.Regelungstechnik (subcontracted to Austria)

LOGWIN Air + Ocean (subcontracted to Austria)

Oracle Austria GmbH

Austrian contributions to the VLT

Because Austria joined ESO after the VLT construction was essentially complete there was inevitably no significant involvement.

Austrian contributions to the E-ELT

Already at this early stage of the project, three contracts related to the E-ELT, totalling about 30 000 euro, have been placed with Austrian industry, as follows, in decreasing order of contact size.

Weatherpark GmbH (two contracts)

Oregano Systems

Other Austrian Contracts with ESO

35 other contracts with a total value of close to six million euros were placed with the Austrian companies listed below. The first two form the bulk of this total and are related to the construction of the new ESO Headquarters extension in Garching and the provision of temporary accommodation. The others are in no particular order.

BAM Deutschland AG (two subcontracts to Austria)

Oswald Matt Group (subcontract to Austria)

IBF GmbH.&Co.KEG (six contracts)

Ensinger Sintimid GmbH

Altova GmbH (two contracts)

Roithner Lasertechnik GmbH

WOLF Fertigungs- und

AMess Messtechnik e.U.

Austrian Society

Emeraid Hartl Gmbh (two contracts)

DAU - GES.M.B.H. & CO. KG.

EMGESA S.A. (subcontract to Austria)

Peter Habison

Best Systeme GmbH (subcontract to Austria)

LOGWIN Air + Ocean (three subcontracts to Austria)

University of Vienna - Department of Astronomy (three contracts)

Cortes y Morales Ltda.

Polar Instruments GmbH

PIK-AS Austria

S.O.L.I.D. Gesellschaft für Solarinstallation und Design m.b.H

TA Hydronics Ges.m.b.H.

D.I. Rudolf Hallerr

Hotel Post Lermoos