Press Releases 1998

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eso9843-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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-en-us — 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.
eso9832-en-us — Organisation Release
ESO and AMOS Sign Contract for the VLTI Auxiliary Telescopes
29 July 1998: The company AMOS (Liège, Belgium) has been awarded an ESO contract for the delivery of the Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). Each of these telescopes has a main mirror of 1.8-metre diameter. They move on (railway) tracks on the top of the Paranal mountain. Together with the main 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescopes (UTs), they will ensure that the VLTI will have unequalled sensitivity and image sharpness that will allow front-line astronomical observations.
eso9831-en-us — Organisation Release
VLT UT1 First Light Poster
20 July 1998: On the occasion of the VLT UT1 First Light on May 25, 1998, a small poster has been produced that illustrates the developments that lead up to this important event. It also displays some of the first photos that were obtained with the new telescope.
eso9830-en-us — Organisation Release
Portuguese Minister of Science at Paranal
20 July 1998: Yesterday, Sunday, July 19, 1998, ESO was honoured to receive a visit by the Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Mariano Gago , to the Paranal Observatory. The Minister was accompanied by the Ambassador of Portugal to the Republic of Chile, Mr. Rui Félix-Alves and a delegation.
eso9829-en-us — Organisation Release
High-Level Portuguese Visit to Paranal Observatory
19 July 1998: Just some weeks after the successful First Light Event of the first 8.2-m VLT Unit Telescope, cf. ESO PR 06/98 , the Paranal Observatory will today receive the visit of a high-ranking delegation from Portugal. It is lead by the Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Mariano Gago , accompanied by the Ambassador of Portugal to the Republic of Chile, Mr. Rui Félix-Alves.
eso9828-en-us — Science Release
First Circumstellar Disk around a Massive Star
24 June 1998: Observations with an infrared-sensitive instrument at the ESO 3.6-m telescope at La Silla have for the first time shown the presence of a disk around a hot and massive star, known as G339.88-1.26. Until now, disks have only been found around less massive stars. Planets are formed in such disks. The new discovery may thus have important implications for our understanding of the formation of planetary systems around stars.
eso9827-en-us — Photo Release
The VLT Images a "Rectangular" Planetary Nebula
23 June 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.
eso9826-en-us — Photo Release
The VLT Looks Deep into a Spiral Galaxy
23 June 1998: The first VLT 8.2-m telescope (UT1) has obtained deep images of the southern spiral galaxy Messier 83 during the present "Commissioning Phase" . During this time, 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.
eso9825-en-us — Photo Release
First VLT Colour Photo of a Strange Galaxy
23 June 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. This is a colour photo from the VLT that shows NGC 4650A, a member of the so-called Centaurus chain of galaxies in the southern constellation of that name.
eso9824-en-us — Organisation Release
Australia to Build Fibre Positioner for the Very Large Telescope
19 June 1998: The Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) at Epping (New South Wales, Australia) has been awarded the contract to build a fibre positioner for the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). This new, large astronomical facility is located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and will feature four Unit Telescopes, each with a main mirror of 8.2-m diameter.
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