Table of Contents Messenger No. 136 (June 2009)

400 Years of the Telescope

2 (PDF)
Roberto Gilmozzi
ESO’s Telescopes In memoriam Daniel Enard
The contributions of ESO to the art of telescope-making have come a long way since the early years, placing it, by the turn of the millennium, among the acknowledged leaders in the field. In this article I will give a brief history of what are, in my view, the highlights among these developments, from the 3.6-metre telescope through the NTT and VLT/I to the E-ELT.
8 (PDF)
Alan Moorwood
30 Years of Infrared Instrumentation at ESO: Some Personal Recollections
This is a brief account of the development of infrared instrumentation at ESO from the first single pixel photometers, built in the optically dominated late 1970s, through the revolution ushered in by the development of panoramic infrared detectors and the VLT, to a tiny glimpse of the 42-metre E-ELT, whose instruments will probably operate predominantly in the infrared, with the aid of adaptive optics. In support of my personal memories, I have combed The Messenger for facts and include here the most accurate timeline I could construct, together with references for those who wish to read more, and by way of acknowledging some of those who contributed to this story.
13 (PDF)
Hans Dekker
Evolution of Optical Spectrograph Design at ESO
The evolution of optical spectrograph design and its implementation at ESO since 1980 is sketched out from the point of view of the instrumentation with which I have been closely involved. The instruments range from the early days of EFOSC, EMMI, UVES, GIRAFFE to the present-day X-shooter and important optical design features, such as the use of focal reducers and the white light pupil principle, are highlighted.

Telescopes and Instrumentation

18 (PDF)
Ivo Saviane, Gerardo Ihle et al.
La Silla 2010+
From October 2009, the La Silla Observatory will begin a new phase in its history, following implementation of a new operations model. We describe here the upcoming changes, how the visiting astronomers will interact with the Observatory and how they will carry out their observations from October 2009 (ESO Period 84).
20 (PDF)
Dietrich Baade, Andrea Balestra et al.
NGC — ESO’s New General Detector Controller
As the replacement for ESO’s standard infrared and optical detector controllers, IRACE and FIERA respectively, ESO has developed a new controller — the New General detector Controller — that will be the default detector controller for all new La Silla Paranal instruments in the next decade. The basics of its design and functionality are described, and first performance examples are given.
25 (PDF)
Frédéric Gonté, Constanza Araujo et al.
On-sky Testing of the Active Phasing Experiment
The Active Phasing Experiment (APE) has been used by ESO to gain experience in controlling segmented primary mirrors in preparation for the European Extremely Large Telescope. The experiment tested various phasing techniques and explored their advantages and limitations. Four optical phasing sensors were developed using different techniques — a curvature sensor, a pyramid sensor, a Shack–Hartmann sensor and a sensor based on a modified Mach–Zehnder interferometer. The design of the APE instrument is described. APE was installed at the VLT visitor focus for on-sky testing and a brief summary of the results of the experiment is given.
32 (PDF)
Gie Han Tan, Brian Ellison et al.
ALMA Receivers Invading Chile
The ALMA Project has moved into the production phase, perhaps most notably for the advanced receiver systems, or Front Ends that are required by the project. This article provides a summary of the technical and production status of the various Front End subassemblies and some of their recent deliveries. The first complete Front End has been delivered by the European Front End Integration Centre to the ALMA Observatory in Chile.

Astronomical Science

39 (PDF)
Martin Kürster, Mathias Zechmeister et al.
The UVES M Dwarf Planet Search Programme
We present results from our search programme for extrasolar planets around M dwarfs carried out with UVES between 2000 and 2007 and enjoying ESO Large Programme status from April 2004 to March 2006. In our sample of 41 stars we have found one “brown dwarf desert” companion candidate, but no planetary mass companions. We have determined upper limits to the mass of possible companions, which, in the habitable zones of our better observed stars, reach the regime of a few Earth masses. Significant periodic variability observed in Barnard’s star is attributed to stellar activity.
44 (PDF)
Stefan Kraus, Gerd Weigelt et al.
Tracing the Dynamic Orbit of the Young, Massive High-eccentricity Binary System θ1 Orionis C. First results from VLTI aperture-synthesis imaging and ESO 3.6-metre visual speckle interferometry
Located in the Orion Trapezium Cluster, θ1 Ori C is one of the youngest and nearest high-mass stars known. Besides its unique properties as an oblique magnetic rotator, the star happens to be a close (~20 milliarcseconds) binary system, which makes it an ideal laboratory to determine the fundamental parameters of young hot stars. In this article, we report on our 11-year interferometric monitoring campaign, which covers nearly the full dynamic orbit of the system and resulted in the first interferometric images obtained with the VLT interferometer (VLTI) in the infrared (~20 µm) and diffraction-limited bispectrum speckle interferometry at the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at visual (440 nm) wavelengths.
48 (PDF)
Manuela Zoccali, Vanessa Hill et al.
Chemistry of the Galactic Bulge: New Results
VLT–FLAMES observations provide by far the largest sample of high dispersion spectra of Bulge red giants available. Five years of work on these 900 spectra have yielded the abundances of different elements in the Milky Way Bulge, and new results on its formation. The results so far include the Bulge metallicity distribution, the Bulge metallicity gradient, the metallicity dependence on kinematics, the history of enrichment with alpha-elements, as well as the lithium abundance. The evidence collected on Milky Way Bulge chemical enrichment supports a rapid early formation scenario, and the metallicity gradient argues against formation via secular bar evolution.
54 (PDF)
Bianca Poggianti, Alfonso Aragón-Salamanca et al.
The ESO Distant Cluster Sample: Galaxy Evolution and Environment out to z = 1
The ESO Distant Cluster Survey (EDisCS, P.I. Simon D.M. White, LP 166.A-0162) is an ESO Large Programme aimed at studying clusters and cluster galaxies at z = 0.4–1. How different is the evolution of the star formation activity in clusters, in groups and in the field? Does it depend on cluster mass and/or the local galaxy density? How relevant are starburst and post-starburst galaxies in the different environments? Is there an evolution in the galaxies’ structures, and if so, is this related to the changes in their star formation activity? These are some of the main questions that have been investigated using the EDisCS dataset.

Astronomical News

61 (PDF)
Jacco van Loon
You and Your Observatory — The ESO Users Committee
The European Southern Observatory is an international organisation serving a large scientific community. Financed by its member states, its facilities are open to all professional astronomers around the world. ESO and its users form a partnership, aimed at maximising scientific progress: ESO provides the infrastructure and logistical support, and the users carry out the most exciting measurements and publish these in a timely fashion in respectable journals.
64 (PDF)
Jorge Melnick, Yannick Mellier et al.
Wide-Field Spectroscopic Surveys Report on the ESO workshop on
The wide-field imaging surveys to be conducted with ESO VISTA and VST telescopes and with the ESA Gaia satellite demand spectroscopic follow-up. Presentations and discussions on the role of wide-field spectroscopic surveys with ESO telescopes at this dedicated workshop are summarised. The instrument requirements for spectroscopic surveys of large-scale galaxy structure, fundamental cosmology, and the structure of the Milky Way and its neighbourhood are presented.
69 (PDF)
Markus Kissler-Patig, Leonardo Testi
ALMA and ELTs: A Deeper, Finer View of the Universe Report on the ESO workshop
The workshop explored the scientific synergies between ALMA and the extremely large telescopes that are being planned. The main goal of the workshop was to bring the ALMA and ELT communities together, to identify the common science cases and to outline instrumentation/upgrade priorities for the ALMA and ELT facilities. We provide a brief account of the scientific sessions and the wide-ranging discussions held during this very lively four-day meeting.
72 (PDF)
Bruno Leibundgut, Lars Lindberg Christensen, Ed Janssen
ESO at JENAM 2009
73 (PDF)
ESO Fellowship Programme 2009/2010
74 (PDF)
ESO ALMA Fellowship Programme 2009/2010
75 (PDF)
A New Service for the ESO Community: The Science Data Products Forum
75 (PDF)
From Circumstellar Disks to Planetary Systems Announcement of the ESO/MPE/MPA/USM Joint Workshop
76 (PDF)
New Staff at ESO
77 (PDF)
The Integral Field Spectroscopy Wiki
78 (PDF)
Fellows at ESO
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Personnel Movements