Announcements

ann11083 — Announcement
ESOcast 39: A Black Hole's Dinner is Fast Approaching
14 December 2011: This episode of the ESOcast looks at exciting new observations of a mysterious object that is a favoured theme in science fiction: the black hole. But the science fiction is fast becoming science fact, and the ending won’t be a happy one for the black hole’s victim. Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a gas cloud with several times the mass of the Earth accelerating fast towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This is the first time ever that the approach of such a doomed cloud to a supermassive black hole has been observed. Watch the episode to learn more about how astronomers discovered this cloud, and what is going to happen to it over the next few years. More Information The ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO — the European Southern ...
ann11082 — Announcement
Season’s Greetings from the European Southern Observatory!
13 December 2011: Click here for a special seasonal greeting from everyone at the European Southern Observatory! The year 2011 has been yet another fruitful year for ESO. The organisation saw a number of significant steps forward in its mission to build and operate world-class ground-based telescopes. In June, a new state-of-the-art telescope, the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), had its first light at the Paranal Observatory (eso1119). The telescope is equipped with an incredible 268-megapixel camera designed to map the sky in visible light. Another major milestone was the start of early science operations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) at the end of September, which we celebrated with our partners in the global ALMA collaboration in North America and East Asia, and with the Republic of Chile. This was marked by a stunning first public image from ALMA, showing the famous Antennae Galaxies (eso1137). Additionally, with the Republic of Chile’s donation ...
ann11081 — Announcement
Science in School Issue 21 Out Now!
12 December 2011: Science teachers, take note: the latest issue of Science in School is now available both online and in print. The European journal for science teachers offers inspiring articles, fun games and hands-on activities for students in every issue. Many exciting topics are covered in issue 21, from space-based astronomy using X-rays and gamma rays, and Pluto's reclassification as a dwarf planet, to fleet-footed ostriches escaping hungry lions. In medicine, an article looks at the placebo effect, whereby sugar pills and other non-treatments can nevertheless make patients feel better. There are also explanations of how molecules move through membranes, and how plants can soak up toxins from the environment, both with suggestions for classroom investigations.   Other articles explore air pollution, the physics of crowd behaviour and even how to prepare Julius Caesar's favourite perfume. Science in School is published by EIROforum, a collaboration between eight European intergovernmental scientific research organisations, ...
ann11080 — Announcement
ESO Promotes Astronomy during Bicentennial Conference in Santiago, Chile
1 December 2011: On 30 November 2011, the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, visited the historical building that formerly housed the Congress in Santiago to welcome Nobel Prize laureates and international top scientists, who had been invited to discuss the influence and impact of biotechnology, nanotechnology and astrophysics on our society at the conference, “The Future: Science, Technology, Humanities and Citizenship” (Congreso del Futuro). The conference was organised by the President of the Chilean Senate, Guido Girardi, and the President of the Chilean House of Representatives, Patricio Melero, to commemorate the bicentennial (200th anniversary) of the Chilean Congress. From 1–3 December 2011, fundamental questions such as life outside Earth, new technologies, global warming, the energy crisis, co-evolution of robots and humans, digital society and paradigms for the governments for the future, were addressed by a select group of international scientists that included Carlo Rubbia, 1984 Physics Nobel Prize laureate; Yuan Tseh Lee, 1986 ...
ann11079 — Announcement
Astronomy Podcast now in Multiple Languages
25 November 2011: Followers of the ESOcast — our astronomy podcast with Dr J — can now watch episodes subtitled in multiple languages. The addition of multiple languages reflects the international nature of ESO and astronomy, and makes it easier for astronomy fans around the world to keep up with the latest news from the world’s most productive observatory. The new subtitles to the ESOcast also make it easier for science centres, astronomy educators, communicators and anyone interested in public outreach to share the videos with the public. Whether it is during a class, accompanying an astronomy exhibition, or at a video screening session, the ESOcasts are an easy-to-use, free-of-charge way to inspire people to discover the Universe. You can select subtitles directly in our embeddable web player, for example on the ESOcast pages on our website. Simply click on the icon labelled CC (Closed Captioning), which appears in the upper right corner ...
ann11078 — Announcement
Ten Years of VLT Adaptive Optics
25 November 2011: 25 November 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of NACO, the first adaptive optics system to be installed on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). NACO’s ultra-sharp vision has greatly contributed to the major discoveries made with the VLT. NACO, short for NAOS-CONICA, was the first adaptive optics instrument to be installed on the VLT, in 2001 (eso0137). By compensating for turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere, NACO greatly improved the telescope’s image sharpness and scientific potential. The instrument, developed by French and German consortia with the collaboration of ESO, was the first of a series of adaptive optics instruments that would be installed on the VLT Unit Telescopes. Some of NACO’s first targets were planets and moons in the Solar System. These observations provided the first detailed maps of Titan’s weather and surface (eso0505) and infrared images of Io’s powerful volcanoes (eso0204). NACO has also observed planets orbiting other stars. In ...
ann11077 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 8 November 2011
7 November 2011: Colliding and exploding stars, which we witness as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, generate the most powerful and brightest surges of energy in the Universe. During the very short time needed for these explosions to produce a neutron star or a black hole, they release more energy than the Sun during its whole life. Their observations, billions of light-years away, give us direct insights on the accelerated expansion of the cosmos. As destructive as these explosions are, they nevertheless play an important role in the evolution of their host galaxy. Without them, there would be no planets, no plants, no animals. The explosions drive the cycle of matter in the galaxy: the chemical elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, produced by previous generations of stars and supernovae, are dispersed into space by these stellar explosions, so they can be incorporated into new stars and condense into planetary systems. The astrophysicist Hans-Thomas ...
ann11076 — Announcement
ESOcast 38: Faraway Eris is Pluto's Twin
26 October 2011: Astronomers have accurately measured the diameter of the faraway dwarf planet Eris for the first time by catching it as it passed in front of a faint star. This event was seen at the end of 2010 by telescopes in Chile, including the Belgian TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. The observations show that Eris is an almost perfect twin of Pluto in size. Eris appears to have a very reflective surface, suggesting that it is uniformly covered in a thin layer of ice, probably a frozen atmosphere. This ESOcast takes a look at the clever technique that the astronomers used and what they have found out about Eris. Credits ESO Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada.Editing: Herbert Zodet. Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida. Written by: Mathieu Isidro and Richard Hook. Narration: Dr. J. Music: John Dyson (from the album Moonwind) and movetwo.Footage and photos: ESO, E. ...
ann11075 — Announcement
ESO Astronomer Awarded Chilean Medal
21 October 2011: In a ceremony at the Chilean Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany, the Consul General, Eduardo Schott, awarded the rank of Commander of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins to Hans-Emil Schuster in recognition of his important contribution to astronomy in Chile. Born in 1934, Hans-Emil Schuster is a German astronomer who worked first at the Hamburg Observatory and then at the European Southern Observatory in Chile from the 1960s, before retiring in 1991. A former student of Otto Heckmann in Hamburg — the first Director General of ESO — he was appointed assistant astronomer at ESO in 1964 and was among the first staff members of the organisation. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Schuster discovered no fewer than 25 asteroids and two comets, 106P/Schuster and C/1976 D2 — which had the largest observed minimum distance to the Sun of the time, at one billion kilometres. He is also ...
ann11074 — Announcement
Matta's Universes
19 October 2011: Los Universos de Matta (Matta’s Universes) is a new exhibition inaugurated at the University of Santiago (USACH) Planetarium on 13 October 2011. Inspired by the work of the multifaceted Chilean artist Roberto Matta Echaurren, this exhibition opened in the new Astronomy Park in the green area surrounding the Planetarium. Born in Santiago on 11 November 1911, Roberto Matta was a painter, an architect, a philosopher and a poet. Deeply fascinated by science and influenced by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, he introduced the concept of space-time into his artwork, as well as bringing in several other astronomical elements. This aspect of his work is illustrated in this exhibition by the large cube that hosts the images and paintings on display, and also represents the multiple dimensions of spacetime. This exhibition is part of the commemorative activities that have taken place during 2011 for the centenary of Matta’s birth. Among the ...
ann11073 — Announcement
ESOcast 37: Full-size Mock-up of World's Largest Telescope Mirror Built at ESO's Open House Day
19 October 2011: On Saturday 15 October 2011 ESO opened the doors of its headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, to the public. Throughout the day, thousands of visitors had the chance to help build a full-size mock-up mirror of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) — the largest planned telescope in the world — and to experience many other aspects of ESO’s work. In this episode of the ESOcast, we look at how the giant mock-up was built by enthusiastic members of the public, and at the many other activities such as exhibitions, talks, and live video links to the Paranal Observatory in Chile, which were offered by ESO during the Open House Day. Credits ESO.Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada.Editing: Herbert Zodet.Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida.Written by: Mathieu Isidro and Luis Calçada.Narration: Dr. J.Music: Movetwo.Footage and photos: ESO, Luis Calçada, Hans-Hermann Heyer and Martin Kornmesser. Directed ...
ann11072 — Announcement
ESO Open House Day 2011: Programme
12 October 2011: For a German version, click here. The European Southern Observatory has lined up a series of exciting activities for the Open House Day 2011, scheduled for 15 October, between 11:00 and 18:00 at its Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany. The highlights of this year’s programme include the building of a full-sized mock-up of the mirror of the planned European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) — the world’s biggest eye on the sky (weather conditions permitting). Visitors can also see real parts of the E-ELT, as well as experience animations and 3D walks through the telescope. At an exhibition about the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) project, participants will be able to control a simulation of a transporter, a specially designed vehicle rugged and durable enough to transport ALMA antennas safely to the Chajnantor plateau at an altitude of 5000 metres. In the Auditorium, visitors can attend talks by ESO astronomers, ...
ann11071 — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 11 October 2011
6 October 2011:   Although it is invisible, and has so far never been directly detected, dark matter dominates the Universe. Without this mysterious substance the motion of stars around the centres of their galaxies cannot be explained and, even more importantly, some specialists consider that none of the structures we observe in the Universe could have formed without dark matter. Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) are among the best candidates to explain what dark matter may be made of. Scientists are currently conducting several experiments using different methods to try to uncover the nature of dark matter particles. Dr. Jean-Côme Lanfranchi, from the Excellence Cluster Universe (TUM) will present one of these experiments, CRESST (Cryogenic Rare Event Search with Superconducting Thermometers), to the participants at the next Café & Kosmos, on 11 October 2001. CRESST, which is located in an underground laboratory 1.3 km under the Gran Sasso mountain range in Italy, ...
ann11070 — Announcement
Media Advisory: Visitors at ESO Headquarters to Build Full-size Replica of World’s Largest Planned Telescope Mirror
5 October 2011: For a German version, please go here. Media representatives are invited to attend the first live construction of a life-size replica of the 40-metre mirror for the planned European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The event takes place between 11:00 and 18:00 on Saturday 15 October 2011 at ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München weather conditions permitting. The E-ELT mirror is so large that it is difficult to envisage. The full-size replica will put this feat of engineering into perspective for the first time. Journalists attending the event will find unique photo opportunities to capture the immensity of the world’s largest planned telescope and the chance to interview E-ELT scientists. An E-ELT scale model will also be present to show what the entire observatory will look like when finished. The E-ELT is ESO’s most ambitious project so far. With start of operations planned for early in the next decade, the E-ELT ...
ann11069 — Announcement
Discoverers of Accelerating Universe Win 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics
4 October 2011: The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded "for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae". One half of the prize goes to Saul Perlmutter (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley, USA) and the other half jointly to Brian P. Schmidt (Australian National University), and Adam G. Riess (STScI, Baltimore, USA).Observations from ESO’s observatories in Chile contributed to the discovery, which is one of ESO’s all-time Top-10 of scientific discoveries. The 3.6-metre and NTT telescopes at La Silla and the 8.2-metre VLT telescopes at Paranal provided vital data to both teams. In addition two of the followup projects were led by ESO staff, Chris Lidman and Bruno Leibundgut, and other ESO staff members, Isobel Hook and Jason Spyromilio, were contributors to crucial papers. This was a global effort involving most of the major observatories around the world.By making many very ...
ann11068 — Announcement
ESOcast 36: ALMA Opens Its Eyes
3 October 2011: The most complex ground-based astronomical observatory in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers. The first released image, from a telescope that is still under construction, reveals a view of the Universe that cannot be seen at all by visible-light and infrared telescopes. Thousands of scientists from around the world competed to be the first few researchers to explore some of the darkest, coldest, furthest, and most hidden secrets of the cosmos with this new astronomical tool. In ESOcast episode 36 we get the latest news from ALMA, as it begins its first science observations, and we reveal its first public image. We also find out how astronomers around the world have been eagerly waiting to get their hands on this revolutionary telescope, and discover why this is only the beginning for the observatory. Credits ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis ...
ann11067 — Announcement
UK Funding for E-ELT Instruments
3 October 2011: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the United Kingdom is making £3.5 million (about 4 million euros) in funding available over the next two years for UK astronomers to take a leading role in the development of key instruments on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The E-ELT will be the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world and its 40-metre-class main mirror will gather 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes today. The project is currently awaiting final approval by the ESO Council. The start of E-ELT construction is planned for 2012, with the start of operations planned for early in the next decade.The preliminary funding from STFC, agreed after peer review, means crucial design and technology work is already underway. This will allow the UK to lead the development of one of the two first light instruments on E-ELT, while positioning two other ...
ann11066 — Announcement
Media Advisory: virtual press conference on start of ALMA operations
29 September 2011: Together with its international partners from North America and East Asia (NRAO and NAOJ), and with the Joint ALMA Observatory in Chile, ESO is inviting media to an online press conference on Monday 3 October 2011 at 10:30 CEST (08:30 UT). Early Science observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the largest ground-based astronomical project in existence, are planned to start over the weekend. Presentations about the excitement surrounding the planned start of Early Science, including the latest news and images from the ALMA project, will be given. Journalists will be offered the opportunity for discussion with scientists from the Joint ALMA Observatory and the ALMA partners. The speakers (to be confirmed) are: Lars-Åke Nyman, Joint ALMA Observatory Crystal Brogan, National Radio Astronomy Observatory Leonardo Testi, European Southern Observatory Sachiko K. Okumura, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan To participate in the teleconference and receive additional material, bona-fide members of ...
ann11065 — Announcement
Science In School Issue 20 Out Now!
20 September 2011: The latest issue of Science in School is now available both online and in its print version. The European journal for science teachers explores a wide selection of scientific topics, through informative articles, fun games and activities for students. The topics range from biology and the human body to fun physics at amusement parks, combating climate change and aspects of astronomy. In particular, the issue features an activity for students in which they can hunt for asteroids using data from a robotic telescope, and an article on how observations not just in visible wavelengths of light, but across the whole electromagnetic spectrum, are vital for understanding the Universe.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.
ann11064 — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 145
14 September 2011: The newest edition of ESO’s quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. In this issue, find out the latest from ESO, with topics ranging from new instruments to ground-breaking discoveries. Highlights include: How the TRAPPIST telescope has been helping the hunt for exoplanets. Plans for a new massive-multiplexed spectrograph for ESO. Learning some of the secrets of the outer Solar System, with a look into the tenuous atmospheres of Pluto and Triton. A study of Asymptotic Giant Branch stars using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, which could also tell us about the future of our own Sun. A glimpse into the early universe with SINFONI surveys studying the growth of massive, distant galaxies. Download The Messenger in PDF format or visit The Messenger website to subscribe and receive a free printed copy.