ESO-Enews #13: May 2009

In this issue:



X-shooter is the first of the 2nd-generation VLT instruments and offers the unprecedented possibility of simultaneous spectroscopy between the UV atmospheric cutoff (300nm) to the near IR (2.5 microns) in one shot at resolutions ranging from R=3000 to R=12000. A full description of the instrument is available here.

X-shooter went through three commissioning runs between November 2008 and March 2009 and is offered to the community for Period 84, for which we received a very large number of proposals.
In line with the VLT Science Operations Policy, X-shooter will be offered to the community for two Science Verification (SV) runs in June and August 2009, for about 10 nights. The observations will be carried out in Service Mode by a dedicated team of ESO astronomers who will also assist PI’s in the preparation and optimization of the OB’s. The standard practice for SV data, is that all data are made public worldwide immediately after passing the usual quality control checks.
Proposals will be allocated time on the basis of scientific merit and feasibility. The X-shooter exposure time calculator should be used to estimate the exposure times. A special LaTex proposal template can be downloaded here.

Applications should be sent by EMAIL to jmelnick at not later than 29 May 2009.


The ESO research student programme aims at providing opportunities to enhance the Ph.D. programmes of member-state universities. Its goal is to bring young scientists into close contact with the activities and people at one of the world's foremost observatories.
Students in the programme work on their doctoral project under the formal supervision of their home university. They come to either Garching or Santiago for a stay of normally between one and two years to conduct part of their studies under the co-supervision of an ESO staff astronomer. Candidates and their home institute supervisors should agree on a research project together with the ESO local supervisor. An article on the scheme can be found in West et al. 2009.
The studentship selection takes place on an annual basis. Review of received applications will start on 15 June 2009 and will continue until all positions are filled.

More details are available here. For information about the application procedure and the required material, please see the ESO recruitment portal.


There is a vast pool of expertise within the community on data from ESO telescopes and instrumentation. Many experienced users are willing, even eager, to share their knowledge, and the tools and methods they have developed. To help and encourage the location and sharing of relevant know-how, ESO has opened an internet forum that can be used to discuss issues related to ESO data. This Science Data Products Forum is intended for discussions of observing strategies, calibration and reduction issues, including methods, algorithms and software, sharing of home-grown software such as scripts or small packages, calibration data and gernerally discussions of any other topic related to science products from ESO telescopes. The forum can be used both to request information and to offer and share experience gained.

Any ESO user with relevant experience is encouraged to look at and post to this forum.


The Blu-ray disc technology will be introduced mid-2009 in the archive. Therefore, archive users anticipating large data requests and PI's expecting significant data deliveries are advised to make sure that they have available Blu-ray disc readers.

Reduced GOODS VIMOS U and R band data were released on April 24th. The U band image covers a region of 630 arcmin2 centered on the Chandra Deep Field South reaching a 1-σ AB magnitude limit of ~30, the deepest ground-based U-band image of the Universe ever obtained. This data release also includes a deep R band mosaic of the same region assembled from archive VIMOS data.

Meteorological data obtained from the APEX weather station and radiometer at Chajnantor are now available from the archive. The archive database contains all available APEX weather data from 01 January 2007 onwards.

For more information about the above news, or to subscribe to the archive RSS feed to stay informed on the latest archive developments, please visit


Registration for the following workshops is open:

Towards other Earths - Perspectives and Limitations in the ELT Era

ESO CAUP Workshop, Porto, Portugal, 19-23 October 2009

The Center for Astrophysics, University of Porto (CAUP) and ESO are co-organising a conference on the developments to enable the discovery of other Earths. New generation instruments such as AO imagers, microarcsec astrometry with interferometers and ultra-stable spectrographs will enable discovery of earth-mass planets in the near-future. The synergy of these facilities with space-based observatories and emphasis on the contributions from the upcoming generation of ELTs are keynote themes. In addtion to review of the current status of searches for earth-like planets and their formation mechanisms, discussion of the implications of the main physical properties of earth-like planets at the detection limits of different techniques will be highlighted.

Abstract submission deadline is 17 July 2009 and the registration deadline 31 Aug 2009.

Registration and further details here.

From Circumstellar Disks to Planetary Systems

ESO-MPE-MPA-USM Joint Workshop, Garching, 3-6 November 2009

The study of circumstellar disks and the formation of planetary systems has experienced great progress in recent years with developments from the first steps in planet formation, to the development of gaps and holes in transition disks, to the direct detection of (proto-)planets around pre-main sequence stars. New facilities such as the Herschel Space Observatory in 2009 and ALMA with the opening of Early Science in 2010 are very relevant and in the more distant future, protoplanetary disks are also a key theme for the European Extremely Large Telescope.
The goals of the workshop will be to review the status of the field and to discuss transformational programmes that will be made possible with these upcoming facilities. The meeting will bring together communities working with ground-based infrared large telescopes and interferometers, space observatories, and millimetre interferometers, as well as theorists.

The deadline for abstract submission is 1 July and the closing date for registration is 10 September 2009.

Registration and further details here.

See the complete list of forthcoming workshops organised by ESO.

The current ESO Electronic Newsletter and back issues are always available on the ESO Web pages here.