Press Releases

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eso0012 — Organisation Release
Major Conference about Astronomical Technology in Munich
16 March 2000: Which are the latest astronomical discoveries made with the new 8-10 metre class astronomical telescopes? Will it be possible to construct even more powerful instruments on the ground and in space to explore the near and distant Universe at all wavelengths from gamma-rays to radio waves? Which research areas in this dynamical science are likely to achieve break-throughs with emerging new technologies?
eso0011 — Organisation Release
ALMA Partners Award Prototype Antenna Contracts in Europe and the USA
14 March 2000: The European and U.S. partners in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project have awarded contracts to firms in Italy and the USA, respectively, for two prototype antennas. [1] ALMA is a planned telescope array, expected to consist of 64 millimeter-wave antennas with 12-meter diameter dishes. The array will be built at a high-altitude, extremely dry mountain site in Chile's Atacama desert, and is scheduled to be completed sometime in this decade.
eso0010 — Science Release
Discovery of Molecular Gas Shells around the Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A
14 March 2000: Recent observations by an international team of astronomers [1] with the 15-metre Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope at the La Silla observatory (Chile) have shown that the unusual, nearby galaxy Centaurus A is surrounded by shells in which carbon monoxide molecules are present. These new exciting results are the first of their kind. In addition to the intrinsic scientific value of this discovery, it also provides an instructive example of what will become possible for more distant galaxies with the projected Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), now in the planning phase.
eso0009 — Organisation Release
CERN, ESA and ESO Launch "Physics On Stage"
1 March 2000: Physics is everywhere . The laws of physics govern the Universe, the Sun, the Earth and even our own lives. In today's rapidly developing society, we are becoming increasingly dependent on high technology - computers, transport, and communication are just some of the key areas that are the result of discoveries by scientists working in physics. But how much do the citizens of Europe really know about physics? Here is a unique opportunity to learn more about this elusive subject!
eso0008 — Organisation Release
Britain Approaches ESO about Installation of Major New Telescope at Paranal
23 February 2000: The Executive Board of the UK Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope (VISTA) project announced today [1] that it is aiming at the installation of a new and powerful astronomical telescope at the ESO Paranal Observatory (Chile).
eso0007 — Photo Release
Fine Shades of a Sombrero
23 February 2000: In addition to their scientific value, many of the exposures now being obtained by visiting astronomers to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) are also very beautiful. This is certainly true for this new image of the famous early-type spiral galaxy Messier 104, widely known as the "Sombrero" (the Mexican hat) because of its particular shape.
eso0006 — Science Release
Into the Epoch of Galaxy Formation
17 February 2000: Working with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory, a group of European astronomers [1] has just obtained one of the deepest looks into the distant Universe ever made by an optical telescope. These observations were carried out in the near-infrared spectral region and are part of an attempt to locate very distant galaxies that have so far escaped detection in the visual bands. The first results are very promising and some concentrations of galaxies at very large distances were uncovered.
eso0005 — Organisation Release
Next VLT Instrument Ready for the Astronomers
8 February 2000: The commissioning of the FORS2 multi-mode astronomical instrument at KUEYEN , the second FOcal Reducer/low dispersion Spectrograph at the ESO Very Large Telescope, was successfully finished today. This important work -- that may be likened with the test driving of a new car model -- took place during two periods, from October 22 to November 21, 1999, and January 22 to February 8, 2000.
eso0004 — Organisation Release
And Then There Were Three...!
28 January 2000: This was a night to remember at the ESO Paranal Observatory! For the first time, three 8.2-metre Very Large Telescopes (VLTs) were observing in parallel, with a combined mirror surface of nearly 160 metres squared. In the evening of January 26, the third 8.2-metre Unit Telescope, MELIPAL ("The Southern Cross" in the Mapuche language), was pointed to the sky for the first time and successfully achieved "First Light". During this night, a number of astronomical exposures were made that served to evaluate provisionally the performance of the new telescope. The ESO staff expressed great satisfaction with MELIPAL and there were broad smiles all over the mountain.
eso0003 — Organisation Release
Final Tests before MELIPAL "First Light"
21 January 2000: Happy expectations are again growing at ESO's Paranal Observatory. For the third time in less than two years, the special moment of "First Light" for an 8.2-metre VLT Unit Telescope is getting close -- now is the turn of MELIPAL.
eso0002 — Organisation Release
"First Light" Approaches for VLT MELIPAL
12 January 2000: After the first two Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope started their operation in 1999, the year 2000 will witness the "first light" of the other two telescopes, starting with MELIPAL.
eso0001 — Organisation Release
ESO PR Highlights in 1999
5 January 2000: Many different activities took place at ESO during the past year. They range from technological and scientific feats to official and astronomical events at the ESO sites in Europe and Chile.
eso9954 — Photo Release
One Hundred Thousand Galaxies at a Glance
21 December 1999: A main scientific application of wide-angle imaging in astronomy is the census and photometric and morphological classification (i.e. by colour and shape) of large quantities of celestial objects in order to identify sources of particular interest that warrant in-depth follow-up observations. This is normally done by means of spectroscopy , a basic observing technique that allows much more comprehensive physical diagnostics than does an image. However, detailed spectral observations requires the great light-collecting power of large telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT). In the past, many important classes of astronomical objects have been discovered by such survey work. Another central goal of wide-field imaging is the identification and characterisation of structures that extend over large sky areas, e.g., of the Milky Way in which we live, of comparatively nearby galaxies, and even of the Universe as a whole. The structure of astronomical objects reveals much about their history of formation which, because of the inherently very long ("astronomical") timescales, cannot be directly observed.
eso9953 — Science Release
New VLT Observations Address the Age of the Universe
16 December 1999: Recent observations with the FORS1 instrument at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (ANTU) by an international group of astronomers [1] have resulted in crucial new information about some small and faint stars within an old star cluster in the Milky Way.
eso9952 — Organisation Release
REOSC Delivers the Best Astronomical Mirror in the World to ESO
14 December 1999: On December 14, 1999, REOSC , the Optical Department of the SAGEM Group , finished the polishing of the fourth 8.2-m main mirror for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory. The mirror was today delivered to ESO at a ceremony at the REOSC factory in Saint Pierre du Perray, just south of Paris.
eso9951 — Organisation Release
Recent Views from the Paranal Observatory
8 December 1999: A series of photographs from the Paranal Observatory was obtained with large-format cameras in mid-November 1999 by the ESO EPR Team.
eso9950 — Organisation Release
Third VLT 8.2-m Mirror Successfully Coated and Installed at MELIPAL
3 December 1999: In the course of the current installation of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) , a delicate operation has just been successfully achieved at the Paranal Observatory. The coated 8.2-m Zerodur main mirror for the third VLT 8.2-m Unit Telescope, MELIPAL , is now in place!
eso9949 — Organisation Release
VLT Commissioning Data Now Publicly Available
29 November 1999: "First Light" was achieved in May 1998 for VLT ANTU, the first 8.2-m Unit Telescope at the Paranal Observatory. Since then, thousands of detailed images and spectra of a great variety of celestial objects have been recorded with this major new research facility. While some of these were obtained for scientific programmes and were therefore directed towards specific research needs, others were made during the "Commissioning Phases" in 1998/99 for the two major astronomical instruments, FORS1 (FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) and ISAAC (Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera). They were carried out in order to test thoroughly the performance of the telescope and its instruments before the new facility was handed over to the astronomers on April 1, 1999. The Commissioning data are accordingly of variable quality and, contrarily to the science data, normally not intensity calibrated. However, while some of these frames are short test exposures that mainly served to ascertain the image quality under various observing conditions, a substantial fraction still contains scientifically valuable data.
eso9948 — Organisation Release
A Powerful Twin Arrives
17 November 1999: The first, major astronomical instrument to be installed at the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) was FORS1 ( FO cal R educer and S pectrograph) in September 1998. Immediately after being attached to the Cassegrain focus of the first 8.2-m Unit Telescope, ANTU , it produced a series of spectacular images, cf. ESO PR 14/98. Many important observations have since been made with this outstanding facility. Now FORS2, its powerful twin, has been installed at the second VLT Unit Telescope, KUEYEN. It is the fourth major instrument at the VLT after FORS1 , ISAAC and UVES. The FORS2 Commissioning Team that is busy installing and testing this large and complex instrument reports that "First Light" was successfully achieved already on October 29, 1999, only two days after FORS2 was first mounted at the Cassegrain focus. Since then, various observation modes have been carefully tested, including normal and high-resolution imaging, echelle and multi-object spectroscopy, as well as fast photometry with millisecond time resolution. A number of fine images were obtained during this work, some of which are made available with the present Press Release.
eso9947 — Photo Release
Solitude of an Observatory
26 October 1999: The La Silla Observatory is located in the Chilean Atacama Desert, one of the driest and loneliest areas of the world. The land around this isolated peak was acquired in 1964 and following some years of construction work, the inauguration of ESO's first observatory took place just over 30 years ago, in March 1969. The solitude of this remote desert site is well illustrated by the above panorama, obtained in 1996.