Press Releases

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eso9852 — Organisation Release
ISAAC Mounted on VLT UT1
13 November 1998: After the successful activation of FORS1, the first major astronomical instrument at the Very Large Telescope on Paranal, the VLT Infrared Spectrometer And Array Camera (ISAAC) has now been mounted on UT1, the first of the four 8.2-m Unit Telescopes. This followed a period of thorough testing since ISAAC arrived at Paranal earlier this year.
eso9851 — Science Release
First Rotation Period of a Kuiper Belt Object Measured
5 November 1998: An ESO Workshop on Minor Bodies in the Outer Solar System (ESO MBOSS-98) was held at the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, during November 2-5, 1998. Among these objects, the newly discovered Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO's) outside the orbit of planet Neptune (also known as Trans-Neptunian Objects) are of particular interest, but the meeting was also concerned with distant comets and some of the small moons of the outer planets.
eso9850 — Organisation Release
ESO Director General to Become President of AUI
3 November 1998: The appointment of Professor Riccardo Giacconi, Director General of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) since January 1, 1993, to the Presidency of Associated Universities, Inc. ( AUI ) in the USA, has been jointly announced by Professor Paul C. Martin, Chair of AUI's Board of Trustees and Mr. Henrik Grage, President of the ESO Council. Professor Giacconi will assume this new position at the end of his term at ESO as of July 1, 1999.
eso9849 — Science Release
New Observations of Comet Hale-Bopp from La Silla
22 October 1998: Observations of famous Comet Hale-Bopp continue with the 15-m Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST) at the La Silla Observatory. They show amazingly strong activity of this unusual object, also at the present, very large distance from the Sun. The radio observations document in detail the release of various molecules from the comet's icy nucleus. Of particular interest is the observed emission from methanol (CH 3 OH) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules, never before detected in any comet this far away.
eso9848 — Organisation Release
ESO Video News Reels
19 October 1998: With the on-going commissioning of more and more elements of the Very Large Telescope Array at Paranal - Unit Telescopes and auxiliary instrumentation - it is expected that there will be an increased stream of news releases from ESO about important new scientific and technological results. In order to enable science editors working for television to benefit from this source in the most efficient way, ESO will from now on issue special Video News Reels (VNRs) with the latest news from ESO and the VLT project. All VNRs will be accompanied by detailed, written information about the images, including a shot list and suggested narration. The sound track will contain original sound, only.
eso9847 — Science Release
A Strange Supernova with a Gamma-Ray Burst
15 October 1998: Several articles appear today in the scientific journal Nature about the strange supernova SN 1998bw that exploded earlier this year in the spiral galaxy ESO184-G82 . These studies indicate that this event was linked to a Gamma-Ray Burst and may thus provide new insights into this elusive phenomenon. Important observations of SN 1998bw have been made with several astronomical telescopes at the ESO La Silla Observatory by some of the co-authors of the Nature articles [1]. The measurements at ESO will continue during the next years.
eso9846 — Organisation Release
FORS1 at the VLT UT1: First Spectra Obtained
7 October 1998: The FORS Team at Paranal has concluded the first phase of the extensive FORS1 commissioning tests at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1), successfully and according to the plan. Although this work was primarily aimed at testing the technical performance of this new instrument, it has also been possible to obtain some spectacular images already at this early stage. And now, for the first time, spectra [1] have also been observed with the VLT.
eso9845 — Organisation Release
A Forceful Demonstration by FORS
23 September 1998: Following a tight schedule, the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) project forges ahead - full operative readiness of the first of the four 8.2-m Unit Telescopes will be reached early next year. On September 15, 1998, another crucial milestone was successfully passed on-time and within budget. Just a few days after having been mounted for the first time at the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1), the first of a powerful complement of complex scientific instruments, FORS1 ( FO cal R educer and S pectrograph), saw First Light . Right from the beginning, it obtained some excellent astronomical images. This major event now opens a wealth of new opportunities for European Astronomy.
eso9844 — Organisation Release
Second 8.2-m VLT Mirror and its Cell Arrive at Paranal
22 September 1998: The "First Light" event for the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1) already four months past, the first major astronomical instrument (FORS1) has now been mounted on this telescope, and the first test observations are under way.
eso9843 — Organisation Release
Europe Agrees on Common Strategy to Initiate Study of LSA/MMA
15 September 1998: In an extraordinary meeting at the ESO Headquarters, the ESO Council today endorsed ESO's involvement in the planning of a major new astronomical facility in the southern hemisphere. Some years from now, the Large Southern Array/Millimetre Array (LSA/MMA) may become the world's prime sub-mm/mm radio observatory [1] at a pristine site at 5000 m altitude in the Chilean Andes, not very far from the VLT Paranal Observatory.
eso9842 — Organisation Release
First Images from VLT Science Verification Programme
15 September 1998: After a period of technical commissioning tests, the first 8.2-m telescope of the ESO VLT (UT1) has successfully performed an extensive series of "real science" observations, yielding nearly 100 hours of precious data. They concern all possible types of astronomical objects, from distant galaxies and quasars to pulsars, star clusters and solar system objects.
eso9841 — Organisation Release
First Major Astronomical Instrument Mounted on VLT
11 September 1998: After seven years of design and construction, and much preparatory work at Paranal, the first scientific instrument of the VLT, FORS1 , was successfully mounted on the Cassegrain focus of the first 8.2-m VLT telescope (UT1) yesterday. FORS1 and its sister instrument, FORS2 (to be mounted at UT2 towards the end of 1999), have been designed to obtain images and spectra in the visual spectral region of the faintest possible objects.
eso9840 — Organisation Release
Irish Team Wins SEA & SPACE Super Prize
9 September 1998: A secondary school team from Ireland has won a trip to Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana, and to ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal, Chile. The trip is the Super-Prize for the Sea & Space Newspaper Competition , organised within the framework of the European Week for Scientific and Technological Culture.
eso9839 — Organisation Release
Large VLT Spectrograph Being Assembled
7 September 1998: Following FORS and ISAAC , the first two major VLT instruments to be installed at Paranal (cf. ESO PR Photos 30a-e/98 ), more instruments will soon be added. Good progress is being reported, as the very comprehensive complement of VLT instruments is now constructed at various sites in Europe.
eso9838 — Photo Release
First ESO Image of New Comet 1998 P1
12 August 1998: A new comet was discovered on August 10 by amateur astronomer Peter Williams of Heathcote (near Sydney, Australia). Having received information about this, other observers on that continent sighted the new object yesterday, August 11.
eso9837 — Organisation Release
Recent News from the VLT Project
12 August 1998: The ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) project progresses rapidly. The first part of the Commissioning Phase for the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope (UT1), concerning the Cassegrain focus and including optimization of the telescope performance, is now coming to an end. The next is dedicated to science observations and will start in a few days. This photo release provides information about the current activities and includes some recent photos from the Paranal observatory.
eso9836 — Science Release
Guiding the Giant
4 August 1998: Giant astronomical telescopes like the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) must be used efficiently. Observing time is expensive and there are long waiting lines of excellent research programmes. Thus the work at the telescope must be very well prepared and optimized as much as possible - mistakes should be avoided and no time lost! Astronomers working with the new 8-m class optical/infrared telescopes must base their observations on detailed lists of suitable target objects if they want to perform cutting-edge science. This is particularly true for research programmes that depend on observations of large samples of comparatively rare, distant objects. This type of work requires that extensive catalogues of such objects must be prepared in advance. One such major catalogue - that will serve as a very useful basis for future VLT observations - has just become available from the new ESO Imaging Survey (EIS).
eso9835 — Photo Release
VLT Quick Views of Spacecraft Targets
31 July 1998: The first VLT 8.2-m telescope (UT1) is now undergoing a "Commissioning Phase" during which all systems are thoroughly tested and further tuned. Although priority is given to technical work, some astronomical images have been obtained during the recent weeks. Some days ago, during short periods when no technical tests were scheduled, "quick shots" were obtained of two comets, both of which are designated targets for space missions.
eso9834 — Photo Release
The VLT Records Faint Structures in Colliding Galaxies
31 July 1998: The unsual galaxy IC 1182 is located in the Hercules cluster of galaxies , a large assembly of galaxies that is seen in the constellation of that name, somewhat north of the celestial equator. It is one of the principal members of this cluster to which the measured distance is of the order of 500 million light-years.
eso9833 — Photo Release
First VLT Excursion into Deep Space
31 July 1998: During the continuing "Commissioning Phase" of the first VLT 8.2-m telescope (UT1), it has been possible to carry out some astronomical observations from time to time. Thanks to its large light-gathering capacity and excellent optical quality, the UT1 is particularly well suited to image very faint and distant objects. To assess this important potential for front-line research in more quantitative terms, it was therefore decided to perform some preliminary tests in this direction, already at this early moment.