Late Breaking News

22 March, 2015

SPHERE ETCs: Currently SPHERE ETCs are valuable tools to explore parameter spaces (e.g., of contrasts, noise regimes, etc.) for Phase 1 proposals. Though defined as “exposure time calculators” the 3 SPHERE ETCs (IRDIS, IFS and ZIMPOL) do not currently predict peak fluxes or the DIT accurately at which the star will saturate (without coronagraphs) for a given setup and conditions set.
The Instrument Operations Team found significant discrepancies between the ETC-predicted DITs and the reality, with help of the consortium. Due to the number of SPHERE setups and the non-reproducibility of the discrepancies, we are currently unable to redefine the ETCs in a timely manner. AO conditions/performances play a significant role especially towards shorter wavelengths (IFS, ZIMPOL). Please use the information available on the SPHERE web page to estimate roughly the telescope time you need for your project:

We still lack data to get the complete picture and we will need probably one or two full periods of experience to develop new beta versions of each ETC that are suitable for Phases 1 and 2.

20 March, 2015

NACO: The list of protected targets of the PRIMA-DDL consortium (ESPRI) is now available on the target protection page for P96.


16 March, 2015

NACO:  A new GTO contract for NACO was approved after the release of the Call for Proposals for P96. As part of the agreement, the GTO Consortium will make the corresponding target protection list available to the applicants. At the time of publishing these news the list is not yet available. The list will be available at the latest one week before the deadline. For this reason, NACO applicants must check the target protection page to identify possible conflicts before submitting their proposals.


13 March, 2015

PIONIER: In recent tests with PIONIER updates on limiting values were determined as follows.

  • The instrument can track fringes on visibilities higher than 5% (V=0.05).
  • The LOW detector gain has been commissioned. The brightest targets that can be observed in service mode are H=-1mag. Since no suitable calibrators might be available for the LOW gain within the recommended area around the target, cross-calibration with other gain values has been tested and is within the typical precision of the instrument. In that case, calibrators well fainter than the target can be used.
  • Tests on the UTs have shown no improvement of sensitivity or precision over the ATs. UTs can only be requested if use of ATs is excluded (e.g. no guide star available).


SPHERE ETC: Some problems have been identified with the SPHERE ETC, which will likely lead proposers to significantly underestimate the time needed for their planned observations. More information should be made available by the end of next week in order to help you plan your observations - please check this page regularly for further updates.