Announcements

ann1068-en-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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-gb — 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 ...
ann1053-en-gb — Announcement
ESO at JENAM 2010
1 September 2010: ESO will have a significant presence at the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting (JENAM) in Lisbon, Portugal, during the week of 6–10 September 2010. JENAM is organised jointly each year by the European Astronomical Society (EAS) and one of the European national astronomical societies. This year’s JENAM will be the 18th Annual Meeting of EAS and the 20th Annual Portuguese Meeting of Astronomy and Astrophysics. On Monday 6 September EAS will inaugurate a new award to honour astronomers of outstanding scientific distinction, the Lodewijk Woltjer Lecture. The award is named after Lodewijk Woltjer, one of Europe’s outstanding astronomers of the second half of the twentieth century, and ESO Director General from 1975 till 1988. Under his leadership ESO established itself as one of the world’s leading astronomical institutes, and took the decision to build the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. The inaugural lecture ...
ann1052-en-gb — Announcement
ESO Call for Proposals for Period 87 released. Deadline is 30 September 2010
31 August 2010: ESO Call for Proposals for Period 87 released. Deadline is 30 September 2010.
ann1051-en-gb — Announcement
How Asteroids Split Up
26 August 2010: Asteroids are often thought of simply as big rocks orbiting the Sun, but they can have quite exciting lives. Small irregularly-shaped asteroids can be “spun up” to fast rotation rates by sunlight falling on them — much as the asymmetric profile of a propeller blade helps it to spin up in the wind. New results show that when asteroids spin fast enough, they can split into two pieces which then begin orbiting each other. Scientists call this process “rotational fission”. A new study released this week, led by Petr Pravec of the Astronomical Institute in the Czech Republic and involving many other institutions around the world, shows that many of these binary asteroids do not remain bound to each other but escape, forming two asteroids in very similar, but independent, orbits about the Sun where previously there was just one. Many such asteroid pairs have been discovered in recent years ...
ann1050-en-gb — Announcement
ESOcast 20: Richest Planetary System Discovered
24 August 2010: Astronomers using ESO instruments have discovered a remarkable extrasolar planetary system that has some striking similarities to our own Solar System. At least five planets are orbiting the distant Sun-like star HD 10180 and astronomers have tantalising evidence that two further worlds are present. The regular pattern of the planetary orbits is similar to that observed for our neighbouring planets. One of the new extrasolar worlds is believed to be only about 1.4 times the mass of the Earth, which would make it the least massive exoplanet ever found. To celebrate this dramatic discovery ESO has released a new video podcast, ESOcast 20. Entitled “Richest planetary system discovered”, it explains how these faraway planets were detected and exactly what we know about them. The video is available in many formats, including HD, and can also be watched or downloaded directly from iTunes.
ann1049-en-gb — Announcement
ESO Website now Includes Icelandic, Polish and Turkish Translations
12 August 2010: ESO is announcing today that important sections of its website have been translated into Icelandic, Polish and Turkish, allowing even more people to read about the latest scientific advances in their native language. ESO projects include the most advanced observing facility in the world, the Very Large Telescope, as well as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and the planned European Extremely Large Telescope. Press releases and other important information are translated by the ESO Science Outreach Network (ESON), a group of individuals in several countries — including all the ESO member states as well other interested countries, including Iceland, Poland and Turkey — who serve as local contacts for the media and the general public in connection with ESO developments. ESON members are also useful contacts between the media and scientists in their respective regions, and as such are valuable ambassadors. "ESO is keen on sharing its results with as ...
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