Announcements

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ann1073-en-au — Announcement
Media Advisory: Groundbreaking New Findings on Distant Universe to be Announced at ESO Online Press Conference
18 October 2010: A team of European astronomers has used ESO’s Very Large Telescope and its powerful instrumentation to push the study of the earliest galaxies further than ever before. 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 Tuesday, 19 October 2010. To participate in the teleconference and receive additional material under embargo, bona-fide members of the media must get accredited by contacting Douglas Pierce-Price by email (dpiercep@eso.org). Reporters will need access to a computer with a recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed and a decent internet connection. Further information will be provided to the accredited reporters.
ann1072-en-au — Announcement
Latest Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal Highlights Cultural Astronomy
15 October 2010: This special issue of Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal (CAPjournal) looks at IYA2009 events that focused on cultural astronomy and discusses how including a historical or cultural aspect can help communicators to engage with a wider audience. During IYA2009, many countries ran projects that can be classed as “Cultural Astronomy”. The activities described focused on indigenous astronomy, the history of astronomy and the inclusive nature of astronomy — as a hobby that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere. Activities included public events that combined telescope observing with storytelling, new learning modules for school children, theatre productions and cultural astronomy exhibitions. Articles in this issue include “Australian Aboriginal Astronomy in the IYA2009”, “Mi’kmaq Night Sky Stories”, “Making Astronomy Culturally Relevant” and many more. It is hoped that the selection of events presented in CAPjournal 9 will encourage others to highlight the cultural aspect of astronomy in their own education and ...
ann1071-en-au — Announcement
Pinning Down an Asteroid Collision
13 October 2010: Astronomers have used the ESO New Technology Telescope (NTT) and other ground-based telescopes, in conjunction with the ESA spacecraft Rosetta to study a very strange celestial object that resembles a highly unusual comet tail. Using the new observations they could reconstruct the sequence of events, and concluded that, in the first half of February 2009, a small rock with a diameter of only a few meters smashed into the asteroid P/2010 A2. This high-speed collision created the trail of dust that was discovered as the bizarre “comet”. The result is also confirmed by independent results from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. To work out the history of this unique event, Colin Snodgrass (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and ESO) and collaborators have combined images from ground and space, including those taken from a very different position by the Rosetta probe, which is currently far out in the Solar ...
ann1070-en-au — Announcement
European Virtual Observatory Shows that Galaxies like the Milky Way Form Easily
10 October 2010: A new study has confirmed that galaxies like the Milky Way form easily. The investigation, carried out by Kambiz Fathi at the Institute of Astronomy of Stockholm University, also shows that Milky-Way-sized galaxies have been the biggest spiral galaxies for at least the last 3.4 billion years of the Universe’s 13.7-billion-year history. To come to his conclusions, Fathi measured images of 30 000 galaxies, using the facilities of the European Virtual Observatory (EURO-VO) [1]. ESO is a co-leader of the EURO-VO Facility Centre. Virtual Observatories allow astronomers to use the power of the internet and large databases to re-use and combine existing observations from many different telescopes in innovative ways. For each of the 30 000 galaxies, he estimated the number of stars in the parts of galaxies where spiral arms are prominent, using images from the Sloan Digitized Sky Survey telescope [2]. The Sun occupies just such a place in the ...
ann1069-en-au — Announcement
Science in School issue 16 now available
8 October 2010: The latest issue of Science in School, a free science education journal, is now available. The many exciting stories in this issue cover topics such as marine conservation, car racing in the physics classroom, flying doctors, and hot stuff in the deep sea. Science in School is published by EIROforum, a collaboration between seven 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.
ann1068-en-au — Announcement
Predicting the Size and Shape of an Asteroid at a Distance
7 October 2010: Astronomers have used the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), in conjunction with other telescopes, adaptive optics technology and an advanced computer program, to accurately predict the size and shape of an asteroid 200 million km from Earth. As the asteroid, (21) Lutetia, is only 100 km across, the challenging Earth-based observations were equivalent to trying to measure the size and shape of a large baked potato at a distance of about 200 km. Each of the approximately 300 snapshots shows the asteroid as little more than a small blob, but by combining all of them, together with further measurements of the brightness of the asteroid over time, the team were able to reconstruct a three-dimensional model of Lutetia. Following this, ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft took high-resolution photographs of Lutetia during a fly-by in July 2010. The images show convincingly that the ground-based observations correctly predicted both the size and shape of the ...
ann1067-en-au — Announcement
ESO Photo Ambassadors Share Spectacular Images of the Night Sky
5 October 2010: ESO boasts many talented astrophotographers among its employees and collaborators, the finest of whom have been rewarded for their dedication by being designated official ESO Photo Ambassadors. These devoted individuals take awe-inspiring images of the night sky from ESO sites in Chile, using their photographic skills to remind us all of the beauty of the night sky. Backed with official ESO support, this team ensure that we can all — regardless of where we live — see the exquisite southern night sky in its full and untainted glory. Selected photographs from the Photo Ambassadors are regularly released as ESO Pictures of the Week, via the ESO Twitter feed and Facebook page, and as slideshows on the group’s web page. Current Photo Ambassadors include Yuri Beletsky, Stéphane Guisard, Gerhard Hüdepohl, José Francisco Salgado and Serge Brunier. If you are an ESO employee or collaborator and think you have what it takes ...
ann1066-en-au — Announcement
Discover ESO's Hidden Treasures
4 October 2010: The European Southern Observatory (ESO) is proud to present Hidden Treasures — a free competition for everyone who enjoys making beautiful images of the night sky using real astronomical data. The competition has some extremely attractive prizes for the lucky winners who produce the most beautiful and original images, including an all expenses paid trip to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal, in Chile, the world’s most advanced optical telescope. And the winner will have a chance to participate in the nightly VLT observations under the crisp Chilean skies. The job however is not for the faint-hearted, as many terabytes of data are available, spanning many years, different instruments and technologies. The goal is to dig a dataset out of the ESO science archive, process the raw frames and assemble them into a stunning colour or greyscale image. Can you compete with the best astrophotography specialists? There are ...
ann1065-en-au — Announcement
ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator Version 3 Released
1 October 2010: Today, the third — and best — version of the popular ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator image-processing software has been released with several significant improvements. As with the previous versions of the FITS Liberator, the new version makes another leap towards making the creation of colour images from raw astronomical observations easier and faster. The FITS Liberator continues to support the FITS and PDS formats, preferred by astronomers and planetary scientists respectively, which enables data to be processed from a wide range of telescopes and planetary probes, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, ESA’s XMM–Newton Telescope and Cassini–Huygens or Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The new FITS Liberator incorporates a faster and more streamlined workflow. The CPU-intensive calculations have been optimised, thanks to significantly improved memory management, and this allows for time savings of up to 35%. For large images the savings in efficiency are even ...
ann1064-en-au — Announcement
ESO Postdoctoral Fellowships open for application
30 September 2010: Several Postdoctoral Fellowships will soon be awarded at ESO Germany and Chile. These Fellowships will offer young and bright scientists opportunities and facilities to enhance their science research projects at the most productive observatory in the world. ESO is presently operating the VLT and La Silla Telescopes and APEX, is the European partner in the ALMA project, and is designing the E-ELT, the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world. The ESO Fellowship Programme is a competitive one: don’t miss the deadline on 15 October!
ann1063-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 4 October 2010: How Large is the Universe?
30 September 2010: The next Café & Kosmos discussion evening will take place on 4 October 2010. It will deal with the question of the scale of the Universe. We will start with familiar scales: the Sun has a diameter of about 1 million kilometres. But it is only one of about 100 billion stars in our Milky Way, which stretches over a distance of 100 000 light-years. And our home galaxy is just one of many! During the Café & Kosmos evening, astrophysicist Dr. Wolfram Freudling, from ESO, will discuss large-scale structures in the Universe, where galaxies and galaxy clusters cling like drops of dew on a giant, three-dimensional spider’s web. But how can astronomers discover and measure these structures? These and other questions will be answered in the light of frontline scientific research. The Café & Kosmos series of discussions is organised jointly by ESO, the Excellence Cluster Universe and the Max-Planck Institutes for Physics, Astrophysics ...
ann1062-en-au — Announcement
ESOcast 21: The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS)
27 September 2010: Today’s telescopes study the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum. Each part of the spectrum tells us different things about the Universe, giving us more pieces of the cosmic jigsaw puzzle. The most powerful telescopes on the ground and in space have joined forces over the last decade in a unique observing campaign, known as the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, or GOODS, which reaches across the spectrum and deep back into cosmic time. In a very special “multicast” video podcast, the ESOcast has joined forces with the Hubblecast, the Spitzer Space Telescope’s “Hidden Universe”, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s “Beautiful Universe” podcasts. Here we explore the collaboration of these great observatories on the GOODS project.
ann1061-en-au — Announcement
ESO releases The Messenger No. 141
22 September 2010: ESO has just published issue 141 of its quarterly journal, The Messenger. This issue features a range of articles on subjects including: The difference between seeing and image quality A new coronagraph for NACO Water vapour above Paranal and La Silla Using APEX and VISTA to survey the Milky Way Studying distant galaxies with the ESO Remote Galaxy Survey ESO at the SPIE Symposium on Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation Plus other articles, including ‘solargraphs’ at ESO observatory sites — an intriguing way to take advantage of Chile’s clear skies.  
ann1060-en-au — Announcement
Eyes on the Skies Receives Prize at TechFilm 2010
17 September 2010: The movie Eyes on the Skies – 400 Years of Telescopic Discovery, initiated as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, has received the International Association for Media in Science’s Award at the TechFilm 2010 Festival. The award ceremony took place on 16 September 2010 at the National Technical Library in Prague. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 marked 400 years since Galileo Galilei first looked at the sky through a telescope, and Eyes on the Skies explores the many facets of the instrument that changed our view of the world we live in — its historical development, the scientific importance, the technological breakthroughs, and also the people behind it with their triumphs and failures. The Eyes on the Skies movie is presented by Dr J, aka Dr. Joe Liske from ESO, host of the Hubblecast and the ESOcast video podcasts. The DVD runs for 60 minutes and includes ...
ann1059-en-au — Announcement
VLT Studies Battered Jupiter
9 September 2010: Using data from observations by two amateur astronomers (Anthony Wesley from Australia and Christopher Go from the Philippines), as well as data from ESO’s Very Large Telescope and several other ground-based telescopes, scientists have found that the object seen entering the atmosphere of Jupiter on 3 June 2010 was a meteoroid roughly 8–13 m in diameter. The science paper is available on this link. This was the second of three recently observed Jupiter impacts discovered by amateurs, with the latest being reported on 20 August 2010 by the Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa and confirmed by other Japanese amateurs. The video of that event can be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIkr86xKcwQ ESO’s VLT has also been used to study the aftermath of the first and very spectacular unexpected Jupiter impact that was also first spotted by Anthony Wesley on 19 July 2009. By using the VISIR instrument Leigh Fletcher and his collaborators have ...
ann1058-en-au — Announcement
ESO’s VLT Takes First Detailed Image of Disc around Young Star
9 September 2010: New research carried out using ESO telescopes has, for the first time, allowed astronomers to reconstruct a detailed picture of the inner disc of matter around a young star. Stéphanie Renard of the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Grenoble and colleagues used the ESO VLT Interferometer to probe the secrets of the star HD 163296. Young stars are surrounded by discs of dust and gas and scientists believe that it is in these discs that planets are born. Dusty grains in the disc stick to each other to make larger lumps that in turn also aggregate together. This growth is expected to continue until rocky bodies about the size of the Earth are formed. “The power of the VLT Interferometer to probe very fine details now allows us to see the inner region very close to the star where there is not expected to be any dust. The new images reveal the ...
ann1057-en-au — Announcement
Nanoantofagasta: How Big is the Universe?
7 September 2010: People living in the region of Antofagasta, in Chile, can now submit their own answers to the fundamental question “How big is the Universe?” The most original — as well as scientifically rigorous — answer will win an overnight stay at Cerro Paranal, home of the VLT, the world’s most advanced optical-infrared observatory. Nanoantofagasta is an innovative video competition organised by the Astronomy Outreach Centre Paranal Universidad Católica de Norte, in collaboration with Explora–Conicyt, the Antofagasta Railroad and the European Southern Observatory. Participants must send in a creative movie clip explaining how big the Universe is and lasting no more than two minutes. All video formats are accepted, including webcams and cell phone cameras. Only residents of the Antofagasta Region in Chile are eligible to win the prize.
ann1056-en-au — Announcement
The Art of Sculpting Glass
7 September 2010: An ambitious project is now in progress at ESO to convert one of the four VLT Unit Telescopes into a fully adaptive telescope. The telescope’s 1.1-metre diameter secondary mirror is to be replaced by an extraordinary deformable mirror system that can be used with laser guide stars to correct for the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere and allow much sharper images to be achieved for all the telescope’s instruments. A major milestone in this quest has just been successfully passed with the completion and testing of an ultra-lightweight “reference optic”. The deformable secondary mirror has been contracted out by ESO to Microgate and ADS (Italy). Another supplier in the south of France, SESO, has just successfully delivered the reference optic, which is the heart of the secondary mirror system. This reference optic is an intricate, very rigid, but also exceptionally light structure made from Zerodur, a glass–ceramic made by ...
ann1055-en-au — Announcement
Postcards from the Edge of the Universe book available for free
7 September 2010: Today at an event at JENAM 2010, the European Astronomical Society’ Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting, the book Postcards from the Edge of the Universe was launched. From sunspots to black holes, planets around other stars, supernovae and dark matter, Postcards from the Edge of the Universe unveils the mysteries of today’s research, looking at cutting-edge astronomy from around the world. Twenty-four frontline astronomers from all corners of the globe explain their science in accessible language in articles edited by veteran communicators Lee Pullen, Mariana Barrosa and Lars Lindberg Christensen. This book is based on the science carried out by a hand-picked selection of the best bloggers from the Cosmic Diary (www.cosmicdiary.org), one of the twelve Cornerstone projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The contributions have been compiled into an edited anthology that gives a unique snapshot of contemporary astronomy. The four-page popular-science articles all have a ...
ann1054-en-au — Announcement
Café & Kosmos 6 September 2010: What does String Theory tell us about the Universe?
2 September 2010: During the next Café & Kosmos discussion evening on 6 September 2010, we will explore the fundamental structure of the Universe. Ordinary matter is made up of quarks and other elementary particles. But what do we find when looking even closer? String theory suggests that even these basic components are made up from even more fundamental objects, known as strings or quantum threads. This elegant theory manages to describe all known particles and the forces acting between them in a single framework.  Professor Dr Ilka Brunner and Dr Marco Baumgartl (LMU Munich) will take us on a journey into the fascinating world of quantum strings. The series of Café & Kosmos 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 first Monday of each month at Café Jasmin in Munich. After a brief introduction, the scientists take ...
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