Announcements 2012

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ann12043-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 12 June 2012
11 June 2012: with Dr. Anita Winter (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, MPE) Cosmic X-rays give us important information about high-energy events happening in the Universe. But to observe this type of energetic radiation astronomers need to work with satellites equipped with powerful telescopes, whose mirrors consist of numerous concentric shells. Traditional methods for manufacturing these shells led to heavy mirrors, which is a major restriction as they need to be launched into space. The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) has developed a new, special technique using glass panes, which results in significantly lighter mirrors and thus enables the construction of telescopes with larger collecting surfaces. On 12 June, Dr. Anita Winter (MPE) will discuss the opportunities and challenges that these new technologies are bringing. Please note that the Café & Kosmos events take place in German. What: Technology of the future for new X-ray telescopesWhen: Wednesday, 12 June 2012, ...
ann12042-en-au — Announcement
ALMA Telescope Upgrade to Power New Science
5 June 2012: Before its construction is even completed, the new telescope ALMA — the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — is embarking on an upgrade that will help astronomers investigate the earliest galaxies and search for water in other planetary systems. The oversight board for ALMA has authorised the design and building of an additional set of receivers with state-of-the-art performance, which will enable the telescope to access a part of the spectrum of light that it cannot currently study. ALMA is the world’s largest astronomy project, and this powerful new facility on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile is giving astronomers insight into both how the Universe and its galaxies have evolved since the Big Bang, and how stars and planetary systems formed in our own galaxy. Although only half of its final total of 66 antennas are currently in place at the high-altitude site in northern Chile (see ann12035), ALMA is already ...
ann12041-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 44: Changing Views
5 June 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. ESOcast 44 — entitled Changing Views — is the fourth special episode of this series. Since its birth, fifty years ago, ESO has helped to improve our knowledge of the Universe by means of successive generations of powerful optical ground-based telescopes. But there are other ways to collect the light from distant objects. In this episode, we discover how ESO has helped astronomers to explore the Universe at longer wavelengths, such as the infrared and radio regimes. The human eye is only sensitive to a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We are not able to see light with wavelengths longer than red, or shorter than violet. But by observing the sky at longer wavelengths, ...
ann12040-en-au — Announcement
Presidential Summit to take place on Paranal
4 June 2012: On Wednesday 6 June, the Presidents of four Latin-American countries will gather at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where the Fourth Summit of the Pacific Alliance is due to take place. Paranal is the home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. Presidents Sebastián Piñera of Chile, Ollanta Humala of Peru, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Felipe Calderón of Mexico will hold a meeting to ratify the Framework Agreement of the Pacific Alliance, to promote regional integration and higher growth, development and competitiveness between the Member Countries of the Alliance, with the aim to move progressively towards the goal of achieving free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. Representatives from Costa Rica and Panama were invited as observers, and officials from Canada, Japan and Australia were also invited as guests. The President of the ESO Council, Xavier Barcons, the Director ...
ann12039-en-au — Announcement
Communicating Astronomy With the Public Journal Issue 12 Now Available
31 May 2012: The 12th issue of the free peer-reviewed journal for science communicators, Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAPjournal), is now available for download. One of the highlights of the issue discusses the different tools science communication specialists use to gauge how well they reach their target audiences — in other words, how they know what actually works. Another article is focused on the Mars Crowdsourcing Experiment, a crowdsourcing project that investigates whether the players of a computer game can support scientific research by tagging surface features on Mars. Also in this issue, there is an article on the project Multiverso, a cultural initiative in which an astronomer and a rock musician team up, combining their passions to create awareness about astronomy. Since late 2009, the project has reached tens of thousands people in Spain through various events such as the release of an album and a set of concert-talks.
ann12038-en-au — Announcement
Media Advisory: Ceremony to Mark Laying of Foundation Stone of ESO Headquarters Extension
31 May 2012: On 11 June 2012 at 18:00, a ceremony will be held at ESO’s Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany, to mark the laying of the foundation stone of a major new extension to the ESO building. The innovatively styled new office building, designed by architects Auer+Weber+Assoziierte, will allow ESO to bring all its Garching staff, some of whom are currently in temporary offices or other buildings on the Garching campus, back together on a single site. The building will be the cradle of the technological innovations needed for ESO’s ambitious projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope (further details are available here: eso1215). The event will coincide with the meeting in Garching of ESO’s governing body, the ESO Council. Representatives of the ESO Member States will be present, as well as the ESO Director General, and representatives of the local authorities and the town of Garching. Members of the ...
ann12037-en-au — Announcement
Nobel Prize-Winning Laser Technology to Help Find Earth-like Planets
30 May 2012: The new technology of laser frequency combs (eso0826) [1] has now been tested with the HARPS [2] planet-finder on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Frequency combs provide reference light sources of extraordinary stability and have the potential to allow HARPS and similar instruments to make much more precise measurements than is currently possible [3]. This novel technique is expected to become a revolutionary tool for the astronomical community and help astronomers to find Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around nearby stars. The results are being presented in a paper to appear in the 31 May 2012 edition of the journal Nature.A team of scientists from ESO, the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ, Garching, Germany) and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC, Tenerife, Spain) — led by Tobias Wilken, a researcher at MPQ — has used a laser frequency comb to ...
ann12036-en-au — Announcement
Tycho Brahe Prize 2012 Awarded to Reinhard Genzel
30 May 2012: The European Astronomical Society [1] has announced that the 2012 Tycho Brahe Prize has been awarded to Professor Reinhard Genzel, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to European near-infrared instrumentation and for groundbreaking work in galactic and extragalactic astronomy. German astronomer Reinhard Genzel — director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics — and his team were responsible for building SINFONI, a near-infrared integral-field spectrograph attached to the ESO Very Large Telescope. Since its first light in 2005, SINFONI has become a key instrument for the study of the structure and dynamics of distant galaxies and, in particular, of the dynamics of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. His team has been involved in an unprecedented 20-year-long study of the movement of stars around the galactic centre, which is based on observations made with ESO’s New Technology Telescope at La Silla Observatory as well as ESO’s Very Large Telescope ...
ann12032-en-au — Announcement
ESO Awards Contract for E-ELT Adaptive Mirror Design Study
22 May 2012: ESO has taken a further step towards the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) by awarding the preliminary design study contract for the adaptive fourth mirror (M4) of the E-ELT to the AdOptica consortium made up of ADS International (Italy) and Microgate (Italy) [1]. This mirror will be a major milestone in adaptive optics technology, becoming the largest adaptive mirror ever made for a telescope. It will be crucial for exploiting the E-ELT’s unprecedented potential, allowing astronomers to achieve major scientific breakthroughs during the next decades. The M4 mirror is part of the E-ELT’s adaptive optics system, which will be responsible for correcting the blurring effects produced both by turbulence in the atmosphere, and the effects of wind on the telescope structure. When installed this remarkable deformable mirror will allow the E-ELT to reach the theoretical maximum resolution possible in its observations [2].The M4 flat mirror will be ...
ann12035-en-au — Announcement
Halfway There: 33 ALMA Antennas on Chajnantor
15 May 2012: On the Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile, construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most complex ground-based astronomy observatory in the world, continues apace. On 12 May 2012, another ALMA antenna was carried up to Chajnantor, bringing the total on the plateau to 33. This marks a half-way point for ALMA, as the telescope will have a total of 66 antennas when completed in 2013. The giant antennas, fifty-four of them with 12-metre-diameter dishes, and twelve with 7-metre-diameter dishes, use sensitive receivers to detect millimetre- and submillimetre-wavelength light from the cosmos. The first of the antennas made the trip up to the 5000-metre-altitude Array Operations Site in September 2009 (see eso0935). Now, as ALMA approaches completion, antennas are arriving at an increasing rate. The state-of-the-art ALMA antennas, which weigh about 100 tonnes each, need a custom-constructed transporter vehicle to move them between the Operations Support Facility and the ...
ann12034-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 15 May 2012
11 May 2012: with Dr. Martin Gorbahn (Excellence Cluster Universe)While the Standard Model of particle physics explains many details of the building blocks of matter and their interactions, many questions still remain unanswered. Several on-going experiments, including CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, will help to clarify things. With these new tools, we can now study the forces of nature down to a scale of 10-19 metres, which is about one ten thousandth of the diameter of a proton! During the next Café & Kosmos, Dr. Martin Gorbahn will discuss what physicists expect to see at that scale. Please note that the Café & Kosmos events take place in German. What: Digging down into the quantum worldWhen: Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 19:00 until approximately 20:30Where: Vereinsheim, Occamstr. 8, 80802 München, near Münchener FreiheitAdmission is free.
ann12033-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 43: Seeing Sharp
10 May 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. The third special episode of this series — ESOcast 43 overall — presents ESO’s flagship facility: the Very Large Telescope (VLT). In this episode we discover the state-of-the-art technology behind this telescope, which has provided astronomers with an unequalled view of the Universe. To obtain the sharpest images of the sky, the VLT has to cope with two major effects that distort the images of celestial objects. The first one is mirror deformations due to their large sizes. This problem is corrected using a computer-controlled support system — active optics — that ensures that the mirrors keep their desired shapes under all circumstances. The second effect is produced by Earth’s atmosphere, which makes stars appear ...
ann12031-en-au — Announcement
ESO 50th Anniversary Events
27 April 2012: Event organisers are invited to join an international series of coordinated public events on 5 October 2012 marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Southern Observatory. The events will celebrate Europe’s quest to explore the southern sky, with unique and exciting activities. ESO invites venues such as public observatories, planetariums, science centres, museums, art galleries, and other public spaces, as well as organisers working with these venues, to apply to host one of these events. The centrepiece of the coordinated events will be a live connection to ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in Chile, home of the world’s most advanced visible light astronomical observatory — the Very Large Telescope (VLT). A never-before-seen stunning astronomical image from ESO will also be unveiled. In addition to the live streaming and never-before-seen image, ESO representatives will visit venues to talk about ESO’s state-of-the-art observatories, and the latest scientific and technological results. Organisers ...
ann12030-en-au — Announcement
ESO Travels to the Moon and Back During its 50th Anniversary Year
27 April 2012: On 21 April 2012, amateur radio operator Jan van Muijlwijk pointed the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope in the Netherlands at the Moon. Radio waves carrying a digital version of the ESO’s 50th anniversary logo were then transmitted into outer space from Howard Ling’s amateur radio station in England. After the signals bounced off Earth’s natural satellite they were picked up by Jan, less than three seconds later, after a round trip of about 800 000 km. The result can be seen in this image which literally traveled to the Moon and back. Patrick Barthelow, who works with Echoes of Apollo and is a keen promoter of Moonbounce [1] outreach and STEM [2] education activities was the initiator of this project to mark ESO’s 50th anniversary. Artist Daniela de Paulis ( is the one who first put forward the idea to Moonbounce images and continues to apply her professional experience in this ...
ann12029-en-au — Announcement
Awesome Universe — the Cosmos through the Eyes of the European Southern Observatory
26 April 2012: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) invites venues such as public observatories, planetariums, science centres, museums, art galleries, and other public spaces, as well as organisers working with these venues, to join an international public exhibition campaign in 2012–2013 celebrating Europe’s quest to explore the southern sky. "Awesome Universe — the Cosmos through the Eyes of the European Southern Observatory" marks the 50th anniversary of ESO. A number of grants for financial support are available. The exhibition campaign is aimed at the general public. Visitors will discover 50 visually stunning images, showcasing celestial objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters as seen by ESO’s observatories — home to the world’s most advanced ground-based telescopes — as well as beautiful images of the observatories themselves, which are located in some of the most unusual places on Earth. Additional exhibition panels introduce ESO itself, and present the highlights of the observatory's first ...
ann12028-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 42: Looking Up
19 April 2012: Leading up to ESO’s 50th anniversary in October 2012, we are releasing eight special ESOcasts, each a chapter from the movie Europe to the Stars — ESO’s First 50 Years of Exploring the Southern Sky. “Looking Up” is the second special episode of this series and ESOcast 42 overall. In it we look at how, over the past fifty years, ESO has helped to unravel some of the mysteries of the Universe in which we live. Astronomers were in need of more powerful tools to observe the sky and ESO provided them. A new generation of revolutionary ground-based telescopes has offered astronomers a front-row seat to study the wonders of the Universe. From the relative proximity of the planets in our Solar System to very distant galaxies, some of which are seen soon after the Universe was born, almost fourteen billion years ago, ESO’s telescopes and advanced instrumentation are allowing ...
ann12027-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 10 April 2012
4 April 2012: with Dr Frank Simon (Max Planck Institute for Physics) The study of the early Universe requires the most modern particle accelerators in order to explore the behaviour of the smallest building blocks of the cosmos. During the next Café & Kosmos, we will take a look at the evolution of the earliest stages of the Universe, and also on the future projects that will influence our understanding of physics. On 10 April 2012, Dr Frank Simon (Max Planck Institute for Physics) will discuss the moments just after the Big Bang, when the Universe was filled with elementary particles. To understand this period of the cosmos better, new and even more powerful instruments will be required. Future particle accelerators, including global projects like the International Linear Collider (ILC) and the Compact Linear Collider (CLiC), will serve as huge particle microscopes to look deep into the history of the Universe. Please note ...
ann12026-en-au — Announcement
ESO Invites UK Entries to New European Astronomy Journalism Prize
29 March 2012: A new journalism competition to capture and promote inspirational coverage of European astronomy is launched today (Thursday 29 March) at the UK National Astronomy Meeting 2012 [1]. The prize is the ultimate for any astronomy enthusiast — a trip to the world’s most advanced optical instrument: the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile. Entries for the European Astronomy Journalism Prize must be about astronomy and related areas of technology, or about the work and lifestyles of astronomers, engineers or others working in the field of astronomy. The entries must reflect European interests and they can be online, written or broadcast. The competition is being run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in conjunction with the Association of British Science Writers and the Royal Astronomical Society. It is open for entries from Monday 2 April 2012 until Friday 27 July ...
ann12025-en-au — Announcement
ESO Remains World’s Most Productive Ground-based Observatory By Far
28 March 2012: Astronomers used observational data from ESO’s telescopes and instruments to write a total of 783 refereed papers during 2011. This is an all-time high in ESO’s history. ESO remains the most productive ground-based observatory by far. Over the past few years the number of papers using observations from ESO has been almost identical to the number from observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, with both rising rapidly after a slight dip in 2009. The VLT/VLTI alone provided data for 551 papers in 2011, an increase of about 8% since 2010. The total number of papers using VLT/VLTI data is now well above 4000. Papers that use data taken from the ESO archives have been accounting for a steady fraction of 12% during recent years, with a strong increase in 2011. Remarkably, even if the contribution from ESO’s flagship VLT/VLTI telescopes is excluded from the total, the remaining telescopes ...
ann12024-en-au — Announcement
ESO Releases The Messenger No. 147
28 March 2012: The latest edition of ESO’s quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. Find out the latest from ESO, with topics ranging from new instruments to the latest discoveries. Highlights include: A report on the progress of the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), a second generation panoramic integral field spectrograph for the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Instrument (APEX-SZ), four years of observing galaxy clusters. Testing the feasibility of the near-infrared surface brightness method to measure distances to Cepheid variables. The story behind the search of intermediate-mass black holes in globular clusters and their connection with supermassive black holes in early galaxy formation. The description of the GAIA-ESO Public Spectroscopic Survey, a large library of high quality spectroscopy of 100 000 Milky Way stars.
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