Press Releases

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eso9910 — Organisation Release
First Light Approaches for Second VLT Unit Telescope
25 February 1999: While much attention is now directed towards the VLT Opening Symposium that will take place in Antofagasta on 1-4 March 1999, assembly work on the VLT Unit Telescopes proceeds at Paranal.
eso9909 — Science Release
The Making of the Milky Way Halo
18 February 1999: A group of ESO astronomers [1] has used new observations, obtained with the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1) during the "Science Verification" programme, to show that a globular cluster in the Milky Way galaxy is "evaporating" and has already lost its faintest stars.
eso9908 — Organisation Release
VLT UT1 Soon Ready to Receive the Astronomers
16 February 1999: A new, short videotape, ESO Video News Reel no. 4 - "VLT UT1 Soon Ready to Receive the Astronomers," is being issued in connection with the start, on April 1, 1999, of regular observations with the VLT UT1 and the associated events in Chile. These include the VLT Opening Symposium in Antofagasta (March 1-4, 1999) and the official VLT Inauguration Ceremony at Paranal (March 5, 1999).
eso9907 — Organisation Release
Three VLT UT1 Photos and a Viewgraph
11 February 1999: Here are some recent wide-angle photos of the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1) with FORS1 and ISAAC attached. Regular observations with these astronomical instruments are scheduled to start from April 1, 1999.
eso9906 — Organisation Release
Third 8.2-m VLT Mirror Arrives Safely at Paranal
4 February 1999: On December 17, 1998, the third polished 8.2-m Zerodur mirror in its special transport box was loaded onto the vessel "Scanscot Oceanic" in the harbour of Le Havre (France). The ship left the same day and arrived with its precious cargo in Antofagasta in the morning of January 25, 1999. Here it was unloaded and placed on a heavy-duty carriage and moved to Paranal where it arrived two days later.
eso9905 — Organisation Release
FEROS Finds a Strange Star
2 February 1999: While a major effort is now spent on the Very Large Telescope and its advanced instruments at Paranal, ESO is also continuing to operate and upgrade the extensive research facilities at La Silla, its other observatory site. Within this programme, a new and powerful spectrograph, known as the Fibre-fed Extended Range Optical Spectrograph (FEROS) , has recently been built by a consortium of European institutes. It was commissioned in late 1998 at the ESO 1.52-m telescope by a small team of astronomers and engineers and has already produced the first, interesting scientific results.
eso9904 — Organisation Release
Into the Invisible with ISAAC
26 January 1999: The present video clip contains some scenes, just published on ESO Video News Reel no. 3 - "Into the Invisible with ISAAC" and based on recent footage from the Paranal Observatory.
eso9903 — Organisation Release
First Light with a 67-Million-Pixel WFI Camera
15 January 1999: The newest astronomical instrument at the La Silla observatory is a super-camera with no less than sixty-seven million image elements. It represents the outcome of a joint project between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) , the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPI-A) in Heidelberg (Germany) and the Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte (OAC) near Naples (Italy), and was installed at the 2.2-m MPG/ESO telescope in December 1998. Following careful adjustment and testing, it has now produced the first spectacular test images.
eso9902 — Organisation Release
New Photographs from the Paranal Observatory
14 January 1999: New photographic photos with large-format cameras were obtained in December 1998 at the ESO Paranal Observatory, the site of ESO's Very Large Telescope Array (VLT), by the ESO EPR team. High-resolution electronic versions (300 dpi, about 3000 pixels; 4-8 Mbytes) of some of these are now available on the web.
eso9901 — Organisation Release
Catherine Cesarsky - ESO's Next Director General
8 January 1999: The ESO Council has appointed Dr. Catherine Cesarsky as Director General for a five year period, succeeding Professor Riccardo Giacconi, whose term ends this year. Dr. Cesarsky will take up her duties on September 1, 1999, at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Germany).
eso9863 — Organisation Release
Season's Greetings!
22 December 1998: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
eso9862 — Organisation Release
Working Day and Night at the Paranal Observatory
17 December 1998: Much attention has been directed recently towards the spectacular first images obtained with the astronomical instruments now being tested at the first (UT1) of the four 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescopes at the ESO Paranal Observatory. There has indeed been a great interest in the newest, deep VLT views of the near and distant Universe by FORS1 in visual wavebands, as well as the first infrared glimpses into star-forming regions by ISAAC, available at the ESO website in different sizes and resolutions. Many of the original observational data will be placed in the VLT Archive in early 1999 and can then be accessed for scientific studies - an announcement will be made in due time.
eso9861 — Science Release
Distant Supernovae Indicate Ever-Expanding Universe
15 December 1998: Since the discovery of the expansion of the Universe by American astronomer Edwin Hubble in the 1920's, by measurement of galaxy velocities, astronomers have tried to learn how this expansion changes with time. Until now, most scientists have been considering two possibilities: the expansion rate is slowing down and will ultimately either come to a halt - whereafter the Universe would start to contract, or it will continue to expand forever. However, new studies by two independent research teams, based on observations of exploding stars (supernovae) by ESO astronomers [1] with astronomical telescopes at the La Silla Observatory as well as those of their colleagues at other institutions, appear to show that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating .
eso9860 — Photo Release
ISAAC observes Jupiter Occultation
1 December 1998: A few days after the "First Light" of the VLT Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera (ISAAC) at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1), the ESO Team of astronomers and engineers at Paranal have succeeded in observing a lunar occultation of Jupiter with the new instrument. During this event, that took place on 28 November 1998, the dark rim of the Moon's disk moved in front of the planet, covering it from view. Somewhat later, Jupiter reappeared behind the opposite, illuminated rim.
eso9859 — Photo Release
A VLT Snapshot of Jupiter
26 November 1998: The "UT1 First Light" observations in May 1998 were done with the VLT Test Camera (TC) mounted at the Cassegrain focus of the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope.
eso9858 — Organisation Release
First Results from the UT1 Science Verification Programme
26 November 1998: Performance verification is a step which has regularly been employed in space missions to assess and qualify the scientific capabilities of an instrument. Within this framework, it was the goal of the Science Verification program to submit the VLT Unit Telescope No. 1 (UT1) to the scrutiny that can only be achieved in an actual attempt to produce scientifically valuable results. To this end, an attractive and diversified set of observations were planned in advance to be executed at the VLT.
eso9857 — Photo Release
New Photos from FORS at the VLT UT1
26 November 1998: Following the installation and first commissioning period of FORS1 at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1), the FORS Team is now busy reducing the wealth of data obtained during this first series of test observations. Apart from allowing the assessment of the technical performance of the instrument, a number of images can also be used for extracting information of scientific interest.
eso9856 — Organisation Release
First Images and Spectra from ISAAC on UT1
26 November 1998: The VLT Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera (ISAAC) [1] was installed at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1) on November 14, 1998, cf. ESO PR Photos 42a-h/98. ISAAC is the second major VLT instrument to be installed at the VLT and the first to be fully designed and developed at ESO within its Instrumentation Division.
eso9855 — Science Release
Extrasolar Planet in Double Star System Discovered from La Silla
24 November 1998: During the past three years, about fifteen planetary companions have been discovered in orbits around dwarf stars. They have revealed to astrophysicists a broad diversity of planetary systems at other stars. Giant planets with masses ranging from half to several times the mass of Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system, have been detected with various telescopes. The orbital periods range from 3.1 to 1650 days; while some of the orbits are of circular shape, others are very elongated. The observed diversity naturally raises questions about how these exoplanets are formed. Now, following only a few months of observations, a Swiss team of astronomers [1], working with a new Swiss astronomical facility at the ESO La Silla Observatory mainly dedicated to the search for exoplanets, has made its first planetary detection. It is a massive planet moving in an almost circular orbit around a nearby star that is itself the primary component of a double star system.
eso9854 — Organisation Release
The UVES Spectrograph Sees the Sun
18 November 1998: The third astronomical instrument to be mounted on the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) - following FORS1 and ISAAC - is now nearing completion at the ESO Headquarters in Garching (Bavaria, Germany). Housed in a modernistic building, some 15 km north of Munich, this is a major science and technology centre with advanced laboratory facilities.