Announcements 2011

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ann11069-en-au — 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-en-au — 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-en-au — 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-en-au — 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-en-au — 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-en-au — 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.
ann11063-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 35: Fifty New Exoplanets Discovered by HARPS
12 September 2011: Astronomers using ESO’s leading exoplanet hunter HARPS have today announced more than fifty newly discovered planets around other stars. Among these are many rocky planets not much heavier than the Earth. One of them in particular seems to orbit in the habitable zone around its star. In this ESOcast we look at how astronomers discover these distant worlds and what the future may hold for finding rocky worlds like the Earth that may support life. 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: Gaitee Hussain.Music: Movetwo.Footage and photos: ESO, Nick Risinger (, Serge Brunier and H.H. Heyer.Directed by: Herbert Zodet.Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.
ann11062-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 13 September 2011
9 September 2011: Recent developments in astroparticle physics are the theme of the international conference, Topics on Astroparticle and Underground Physics (TAUP), which takes place from 5 to 9 September 2011 in Munich. TAUP will address current questions in modern astrophysics and particle physics. For instance, scientists will discuss new measurements from an experiment in which they might get the first direct detection of dark matter particles.To mark this event, Dr. Bela Majorovits and Dr. Robert Wagner (Max-Planck-Institut für Physik), two of the scientific organisers of the TAUP conference, will present observations and research results to Café & Kosmos. The Café & Kosmos participants will have the chance to get first-hand information on these developments, and to discuss them with TAUP experts.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 ...
ann11061-en-au — Announcement
Media Advisory: ESO to hold virtual press conference to discuss major HARPS exoplanet findings
8 September 2011: On Monday 12 September 2011, astronomers will report significant new results in the field of exoplanets, obtained with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, better known as HARPS, the spectrograph on ESO's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. An online press conference to announce the new results and offer journalists the opportunity for discussion with the scientists will be held at 16:00 CEST on Monday, 12 September 2011. The teleconference presenters are: Dr. Francesco Pepe, Geneva Observatory, Switzerland Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany Dr. Markus Kissler-Patig, ESO, on the future of exoplanet research with the E-ELT To participate in the teleconference and receive additional material, bona-fide members of the media must get accredited by contacting Richard Hook by email ( Reporters will need access to a computer with a recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed and an adequately fast internet connection. ...
ann11060-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 34: How To Stop a Star's Twinkle
5 September 2011: We have all looked up at the sky at night and seen the stars twinkle. It may be pretty and romantic, but it is also a big problem for astronomers, as the shimmering starlight blurs observations. In this ESOcast we visit the Allgäu public observatory amid the picturesque landscape of southern Germany. Here, as night falls, a team of scientists and engineers prepares to field test a laser guide star unit, which will soon be on its way to ESO’s Paranal Observatory. This cutting edge technology can help astronomers cancel out the effects of the turbulence in the atmosphere and obtain much sharper views of the Universe. Credit 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: Oli Usher and Herbert Zodet. Narration: Dr. J and Robert Fosbury. Music: John Dyson (from the album ...
ann11059-en-au — Announcement
Cryogenic “Catering Truck” Comes to ALMA
2 September 2011: The ultimate in high altitude, high-tech catering has arrived in Chile to serve chilled "provisions" to the antennas at the largest astronomical complex in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).Although it may look just like an airline catering truck, this vehicle is designed to carry something considerably more delicate than airplane meals! Each of the giant ALMA antennas contains a set of state-of-the-art, extremely sensitive superconducting receivers, or detectors, which are cryogenically cooled to –269 degrees Celsius (4 degrees above absolute zero). Until now, servicing these detectors has required moving the entire antenna, which weighs about 100 tonnes, from its observing site on the 5000-metre Chajnantor plateau down to the support facility at 2900 metres.The newly arrived servicing truck, called the Front End Service Vehicle (FESV), is a custom designed truck packed with the equipment required to transport these delicate detector systems without having to move the entire ...
ann11058-en-au — Announcement
ESO Call for Proposals for Period 89 Released
31 August 2011: The ESO Call for Proposals for Period 89 has been released. The deadline is 29 September 2011, 12:00 noon CEST. Links More information:
ann11057-en-au — Announcement
Open House at ESO 2011: Help build a full-size model of the E-ELT mirror
29 August 2011: For a German version of this announcement please go here. The European Southern Observatory (ESO), the world’s most productive astronomical observatory, will open its doors to the public for one day, on Saturday 15 October 2011 between 11:00 and 18:00 at ESO Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany. This event is part of the Open House Day activities for the whole Garching research campus, and several other local institutes will also open their doors to the public.The highlight of ESO’s Open House Day 2011 — weather conditions permitting — will be the outdoor construction of a full-sized model of what will be the biggest telescope mirror ever built. Using 798 cardboard hexagons, each roughly 1.4 metres across, visitors will assemble a mock-up of the 39.3-metre diameter main mirror of the European-Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The mock-up will occupy an area of nearly 1000 square metres on the ground next to ...
ann11056-en-au — Announcement
Pioneering Astronomical Watch Launched by IWC at ESO’s Paranal Observatory
29 August 2011: The unique location of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Chile, was the venue chosen by the prestigious Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen to launch a pioneering technological achievement: the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia, a watch that combines solar time with sidereal time, together with astronomical displays such as a chart of the stars overhead for a given geographical location.The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is the most complex timepiece ever created by IWC, in perfect harmony with the high precision requirements of the astronomical observations at Paranal. “With a history already stretching back over 140 years, IWC sets a new benchmark with this watch. No wonder IWC decided to premier this watchmaking milestone at the Very Large Telescope,” says Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.Media professionals from all over the world attended the event and experienced the unique ambience as the domes opened at sunset. They also ...
ann11055-en-au — Announcement
Don’t Miss Out on What’s New at ESO!
26 August 2011: The European Southern Observatory’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) has launched a series of newsletters to stay in touch with anyone who is interested in news from the organisation — from laypeople to media. The newsletters gather all the latest news, products and opportunities into one place in a visually pleasing format, combining text, images and links that can be accessed easily and shared on social media platforms. Anyone who subscribes to the esonews mailing list will start receiving the ESO News newsletter roughly once a week, when press releases are released. Those who haven’t yet subscribed, but wish to be informed about the latest discoveries coming from ESO, are invited to provide an e-mail address here. The ESO Outreach Community Newsletter is addressed to informal educators such as science centres, museums, planetariums and public observatories, as well as to teachers, science communicators, public information officers and professional and ...
ann11054-en-au — Announcement
ESO Introduces the Cosmic Gems Programme
24 August 2011: ESO is announcing a new initiative to produce spectacular astronomical images using small amounts of time on the organisation’s telescopes for the purposes of education and public outreach. This will allow ESO to continue to supply the public with spectacular colour pictures, and maintain its world-leading position in astronomy education and outreach. The first image to come out of this initiative shows a peculiar pair of galaxies — and is a stunning testament to the optical quality of the VLT and the skies over the Paranal Observatory. In this initiative, ESO’s Director General has granted dedicated observing time for outreach purposes as part of the ESO Director’s Discretionary Time programme. The small amount of time provided is mostly “low-grade time” — when the clouds roll in or there are moonlit skies not requested for science observations, and the telescopes might otherwise be idle. The data collected are also made available ...
ann11053-en-au — Announcement
Virtual Tours 360° — Where on Earth is ESO?
19 August 2011: The new and improved ESO Virtual Tours 360° take you one step beyond! Using Google maps you can now find out exactly where ESO is. And with the new viewpoint feature you can see your exact vantage point and which direction you’re facing at any time. This new perspective lets you navigate your way across the globe, from our observatories in the Chilean Andes to the Headquarters building in Munich suburbia, and find out where ESO goes to work. Each tour has been rejuvenated, with a host of new and breathtaking panoramas and videos, such as this stunning VLT timelapse footage. Background information is available at all sites, including information on ESO’s telescopes and instruments. And now you can take a look behind the scenes at ESO Headquarters, too! Take a trip to Garching (near Munich) in Germany and enter the Headquarters building through the reception hall. Look around the ...
ann11052-en-au — Announcement
The Next ESO Picture of the Week Could Be Yours
12 August 2011: ESO is launching a new initiative — a Flickr group called Your ESO Pictures, which will work as a platform for everyone who wishes to share their ESO-related photos with the world. You are encouraged to submit pictures of anything connected with ESO — snapshots of our telescopes, drawings, your own artwork inspired by ESO or even images produced from astronomical data from ESO telescopes. We will select the best ones and occasionally feature them as Pictures of the Week on If you have a more extensive gallery of pictures taken at ESO sites you could even receive the title of ESO Photo Ambassador.The Flickr group accepts photographs and videos, as well as illustrations and animations. Examples of content, authored by ESO Photo Ambassador José Francisco Salgado, have already been added to the group pool. Now it is your turn: join Your ESO Pictures and start sharing your images ...
ann11051-en-au — Announcement
ESOCast 33: Under Chilean Skies
11 August 2011: Cloudy skies are an astronomer’s nightmare. And while illuminated cities are a night-time beacon of modern civilisation, bright night skies are also a no-go zone for world-class astronomical observations. So, in the pursuit of pristine skies, ESO, the European Southern Observatory operates its telescopes far beyond Europe, in the remote and arid landscape of the Atacama Desert in Chile.In this ESOcast, Dr J looks at why this hostile environment is one of the best places on Earth to observe the night sky.
ann11050-en-au — Announcement
Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation Visits Paranal and ALMA
3 August 2011: On 1–2 August 2011, the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile was honoured with a visit from the Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation, Cristina Garmendia Mendizábal.The distinguished visitor was present when the dome of one of the four 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of ESO’s Very Large Telescope opened for a night’s observing at Cerro Paranal, the world’s most advanced visible-light observatory. Minister Garmendia was accompanied by Carlos Martinez Riera, Director General for International Cooperation at the Ministry for Science and Innovation (MICINN), Xavier Barcons, Spanish delegate and Vice-president of the ESO Council, and Juan Manuel Cabrera, Spanish Ambassador in Chile. The group was hosted at Paranal by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, the ESO Representative in Chile, Massimo Tarenghi, and the Director of Operations, Andreas Kaufer. After the opening of the telescope, Minister Garmendia enjoyed the spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the VLT platform. Then she visited ...
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