Science Announcements

Recommissioning of NACO

Published: 22 Jan 2015

After the NACO instrument was decommissioned from Nasmyth B of UT4 in August 2013 to provide space for MUSE, the instrument was re-mounted on UT1 at Nasmyth A in September 2014, in place of CRIRES, which is being upgraded. Since problems with the CONICA detector's wire connections could not be recovered during recommissioning, it was decided to replace the CONICA detector with the old ISAAC long wavelength detector, which is also sensitive from 1 to 5 μm and has very similar features and noise properties. During 4–12 January 2015, engineers and astronomers were able to re-commission NACO and return it to operations. The adaptive optics performance is nominal and all offered modes for Periods 94 and 95 have been tested and validated on-sky.

Approved VIMOS Public Spectroscopic Surveys: VANDELS and LEGA-C

Published: 21 Jan 2015

The last steps of the long process of evaluation of proposals for the ESO Public Spectroscopic Surveys have been completed, and two surveys have been approved with the VIMOS instrument on the VLT. These are VANDELS – A deep VIMOS survey of the CANDELS UDS and CDFS fields (PIs Ross McLure [Edinburgh] and Laura Pentericci [INAF-Rome]) and LEGA-C – The Large Early Galaxy Astrophysics Census survey (PI: Arjen van der Wel [MPIA]) in the COSMOS field.

Period 95 Proposal Allocation

Published: 20 Jan 2015

The 95th Observing Programmes Committee met on 18–20 November 2014. A total of 1094.1 (10-hour equivalent) nights of visitor and service mode observations were allocated on the VLT, VISTA, VST, the 3.6-metre, NTT and APEX telescopes.
On the VLT the balance between visitor and service mode in Period 95 was 35.4% and 53.2% (+ 11.4% fillers). New and ongoing Large Programmes on the VLT occupy 17.4% of the allocation, while the equivalent numbers on the 3.6-metre and NTT are 49.3% and 32.5% respectively. A 19.7 night allocation to the two Public Spectroscopic Surveys with VIMOS was made (see separate announcement).

New Release of Images and Photometric Catalogues from VMC Survey

Published: 20 Jan 2015

The VISTA Magellanic Survey (VMC) – one of the six public surveys current at the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) – aims at determining the spatially resolved star formation history and 3D geometry of the Magellanic system. The VMC survey is designed to reach stars below the oldest main-sequence turn-off and the multi-epoch strategy enables determination of accurate Ks mean magnitudes for variable stars. This release contains five new images for VMC tiles, two re-processed tiles and band-merged and multi-epoch photometric catalogues, as well as catalogues of known Cepheid stars and eclipsing binaries.

Shaping ESO2020+ Together: Users Poll

Published: 19 Dec 2014

The ESO Science Prioritisation Working Group has been tasked with reviewing the ESO programme from a scientific perspective. To tension the current and planned programme against new possibilities, the Working Group has today launched a poll, so that you can share with us your scientific priorities.

Phase 2 for Period 95

Published: 18 Dec 2014

The allocation of ESO telescope time for Period 95 is expected to be emailed on 22 December 2014. With the release of the telescope schedule, preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 95 observations is 5 February 2015 for all instruments except VISIR.

SPHERE Science Verification

Published: 17 Dec 2014

SPHERE Science Verification (SV) took place from 4 to 11 December 2014 on VLT UT3. Out of 67 submitted proposals, 40 programmes were scheduled for a total of 88.4 hours of observations. Nineteen programmes were completed, with an additional 9 programmes receiving partial data sets. Some more SV time is planned in February 2015 and it is hoped to undertake some of the remaining 12 observing programmes.

E-ELT Two-Phase Construction

Published: 17 Dec 2014

As announced in the Organisation Release eso1440, the ESO Council has approved the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in two phases and authorised spending of around one billion euros for the first phase. This first phase will cover the construction costs of a fully working telescope with a suite of powerful instruments and first light targeted in ten years. The context for this decision is reported in an article (PDF) in the December issue of The Messenger.

Exchange of FORS2 Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector

Published: 16 Dec 2014

The coatings of the FORS2 linear atmospheric dispersion corrector (LADC) prisms have degraded, so it was decided to replace them with the uncoated prisms of the twin FORS1 LADC. The exchange took place on 10 November 2014 and the performance of the prisms has been extensively tested.

ESO GOODS Data Products Now Entirely Served by Phase 3

Published: 15 Dec 2014

The ESO GOODS advanced data products are now available via the Science Data Product query forms of the ESO Archive Facility.

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