Messenger No. 129 (September 2007)
Telescopes and Instrumentation
On-sky Testing of the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Marchetti, E.; Brast, R.; Delabre, B.; Donaldson, R.; Fedrigo, E.; Frank, C.; Hubin., N.; Kolb, J.; Lizon, J.-L.; Marchesi, M.; Oberti, S.; Reiss, R.; Santos, J.; Soenke, C.; Tordo, S.; Baruffolo, A.; Bagnara, P.; The CAMCAO Consortium
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO) AD(ESO) AE(ESO) AF(ESO) AG(ESO) AH(ESO) AI(ESO) AJ(ESO) AK(ESO) AL(ESO) AM(ESO) AN(ESO) AO(ESO) AP(INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Padova, Italy) AQ(INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Padova, Italy) AR(Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal)
The aim of the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) is to correct for atmospheric turbulence over a field of view which is much larger than the one typically covered by the exist-ing adaptive optics systems installed on 8-m-class telescopes. After a long period of testing at the ESO premises, MAD was installed at the VLT early in 2007 in order to evaluate its correction performance. Here we present the MAD project and the recent results obtained during the on-sky testing at the VLT UT3 telescope Melipal.
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Circular Polarimetry Now Offered at EFOSC2
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Saviane, I.; Piirola, V.; Bagnulo, S.; Monaco, L.; Hutsemekers, D.; Katajainen, S.; Lehto, H.; Vornanen, T.; Berdyugin, A.; Hakala, P.
AA(ESO) AB(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland & Vatican Observatory, Città del Vaticano, Rome, Italy) AC(Armagh Observatory, Armagh, Northern Ireland) AD(ESO) AE(University of Liège, Belgium) AF(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland) AG(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland) AH(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland) AI(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland) AJ(Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku Piikkiö, Finland)
Starting from period P79, circular polarimetry measurements can be carried out with EFOSC2 at the ESO 3.6-m telescope. Here we describe the motivations behind the upgrade of the instrument, and a few results from the commissioning runs are used to show the excellent performance of the new polarimetry unit.
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The 3.6-m Dome: 30 Years After
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Ihle, G.; Montano, N.; Tamai, R.
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO)
After rotating for more than 30 years, the dome support wheels for the ESO 3.6-m telescope started to degrade, resulting in a shutdown in October 2006. The engineering process of reshaping the track and gradual replacement of the supporting wheels is described. The rotation of the dome is now returning to its original efficiency.
Calibration Sources for the Near-IR Arm of X-shooter
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Kerber, F.; Saitta, F.; Bristow, P.
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO)
We have studied the properties of wavelength calibration sources for the near- IR arm of X-shooter. In a novel approach we are combining laboratory measurements from a Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS), and literature data, with simulated data derived from a physi- cal model of X-shooter. The sources studied are pen ray lamps filled with the noble gases Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe and Th-Ar hollow cathode lamps. As a product we provide a quantitative order by order analysis of the expected properties of the calibration lamps during X-shooter operations. Based on these we give recommendations for the selection of the best combination of lamps. The combination of laboratory measurements and instrument modeling provides a powerful tool for future instrument development.
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Future Wavelength Calibration Standards at ESO: the Laser Frequency Comb
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Araujo-Hauck, Constanza; Pasquini, Luca; Manescau, Antonio; Udem, Thomas; Hänsch, Theodor W.; Holzwarth, Ronald; Sizmann, Andreas; Dekker, Hans; D'Odorico, Sandro; Murphy, Michael T.
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO) AD(Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany) AE(Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany) AF(Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany & Menlo Systems GmbH, Martinsried, Germany) AG(Menlo Systems GmbH, Martinsried, Germany) AH(ESO) AI(ESO) AJ(Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
A new technique for precise wavelength calibration of high-resolution spectrographs using frequency combs has recently been proposed. After introducing the basic concepts and advantages of this technique, we describe the ongoing development between ESO and the Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics for a novel wavelength calibration system that aims, within three years, to construct a laboratory demonstrator.
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ESO's Next Generation Archive System in Full Operation
Telescopes and Instrumentation
Wicenec, A.; Knudstrup, J.
Considerations of the technical feasibility and the cost implications of a disk-based archiving system to store digital observations coming from the ever growing suite of ESO telescopes and instruments began in 2000. The so-called Next Generation Archiving System (NGAS) started archiving data in a prototype system in 2001. Now the second generation of NGAS hardware has been installed in the new ESO data centre and about 98% of all data since 1998 have been migrated onto disks hosted on NGAS computers. In addition all data currently produced by ESO instruments is directly archived onto NGAS hosts both in La Silla and Paranal. Currently the ESO archive keeps about 125 TB of data online and the system has been scaled up to cope with the next data wave coming from VISTA and OmegaCAM.
More detailed information on NGAS is available at
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Status and Perspectives of Astroparticle Physics in Europe
AA(DESY – Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron)
Astroparticle physics has evolved as an interdisciplinary field at the intersec- tion of particle physics, astronomy and cosmology. Over the last two decades, it has moved from infancy to technological maturity and is now envisaging projects on the 100 M€ scale. This price tag requires international coordination, cooperation and convergence to a few flagship projects. The Roadmap Committee of ApPEC (Astroparticle Physics European Coordination) has recently released a roadmap covering the next ten years. ApPEC is a corporation of European funding agencies promoting astroparticle physics.
Aharonian F. 2007, Science 315, 70
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Voelk H. 2006, astro-ph/0603501
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Hot Gas in High-Redshift Protogalaxies: Observations of High-Ion Absorption in Damped Lyman-Alpha Systems
Fox, A. J.; Petitjean, P.; Ledoux, C.; Srianand, R.
AA(Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France) AB(Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France & LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, France) AC(ESO) AD(Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics – IUCAA, Ganesh Khind, Pune, India)
The neutral discs of high-redshift galaxies give rise to the Damped Lyman-a (DLA) systems seen in the spectra of background quasars. We show for the first time that a hot phase of gas is present in DLAs, observable in the absorption lines of five-times-ionised oxygen. This plasma phase, which could harbour a considerable fraction of all the metals produced by star formation at these epochs, can be explained as the feedback from star formation taking place in the neutral discs.
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The Redshift of BL Lacertae Objects from High Signal-to-Noise VLT Spectra
Falomo, R.; Treves, A.
AA(INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy) AB(Università dell'Insubria, Como, Italy)
BL Lacertae objects are active galactic nuclei dominated by non-thermal continuum emission and characterised by absence or extreme weakness of emission lines. These properties in several cases hinder the determination of their distance and thus the assessment of the properties of the class. High signal-to-noise optical spectra of these sources obtained with the VLT help to overcome these difficulties and allow one to obtain new redshifts and set stringent limits on the distance for pure lineless objects.
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Results from the Multiwavelength Survey by Yale-Chile (MUSYC)
Treister, E.; Gawiser, E.; van Dokkum, P.; Lira, P.; Urry, M.; The Musyc Collaboration
AA(ESO) AB(Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA) AC(Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA) AD(Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile) AE(Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA) AF(The Musyc Collaboration)
We present results from the MUSYC survey, which images a total of 1.2 square degrees spread over four fields in UBVRIz;K down to the spectroscopic limit, R ~ 25, K ~ 22 (AB). A significant fraction of the survey area has also been imaged by Chandra, XMM, GALEX, HST-ACS, near-infrared (JH), Spitzer-IRAC+MIPS, VLA, and ATCA. The main goals of this survey include the study of galaxy formation and evolution, Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and Galactic structure.
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Weighing Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies in the Fornax Cluster
Hilker, M.; Baumgardt, H.; Infante, L.; Drinkwater, M.; Evstigneeva, E.; Gregg, M.
AA(ESO) AB(Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Universität Bonn, Germany) AC(Departamento de Astronomía y Astrofísica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile) AD(Department of Physics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) AE(Department of Physics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) AF(Department of Physics, University of California, Davis, California, USA)
High-resolution spectra from the Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) were used to derive internal velocity dispersions of Ultracompact Dwarf galaxies (UCDs) in the Fornax cluster of galaxies. The velocity dispersions, together with highly spatially resolved luminosity profiles from Hubble Space Telescope imaging (ACS camera), allowed us to derive the dynamical masses of the UCDs. We show that the mass-to-light ratios of UCDs in Fornax are consistent with those expected for pure stellar populations. No dark matter contribution is needed. Thus, these UCDs seem to be the result of star-cluster formation processes within galaxies, rather than being compact dwarf galaxies formed in dark-matter halos.
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VLT/FORS Surveys of Wolf-Rayet Stars beyond the Local Group: Type Ib/c Supernova Progenitors?
Crowther, Paul A.; Hadfield, Lucy J.
AA(University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) AB(University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)
Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars are the chemical-ly evolved descendents of O stars, such that they trace massive star formation. Here we present results of recent VLT/FORS surveys of WR stars in near- by spiral and irregular galaxies and consider individual WR stars as progenitors of Type Ib/c core-collapse supernovae. Young massive clusters hosting large WR populations may be used as templates for high-redshift Lyman break galaxies.
Chandar R. et al. 2004, ApJ 604, 153
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Surface Ice Spectroscopy of Pluto, Charon and Triton
Protopapa, S.; Herbst, T.; Böhnhardt, H.
AA(Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Lindau, Germany) AB(Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany) AC(Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Lindau, Germany)
We present new reflectance spectra of Pluto and Triton taken with the ESO adaptive optics instrument NACO at the VLT and covering the wavelength range 1 5 µm. Apart from known and expected absorption bands from methane ice, our data reveal new absorption bands centred around 4.0 µm and 4.6 µm never detected before. The latter absorption could be related to the presence of CO ice at the body surfaces. Charon's spectrum is also measured in the wavelength range 1 4 µm, for the first time simultaneously with, but isolated from, that of Pluto. The non-detection of Pluto's moonlets (unknown at the time of observation) in acquisition images of Pluto-Charon provides a lower limit of 18.8 mag for the K-band brightness of Hydra and Nix.
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BACHES - A Compact Light-Weight Echelle Spectrograph for Amateur Astronomy
Avila, G.; Burwitz, V.; Guirao, C.; Rodriguez, J.; Shida, R.; Baade, D.
AA(ESO) AB(Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Garching, Germany) AC(ESO) AD(ESO) AE(ESO & ST-ECF) AF(ESO)
BACHES is a low-cost, light-weight echelle spectrograph suitable for observations of bright stars coupled with small telescopes up to 35 cm (14?) in diameter. The resolving power reaches 19000 in a continuous spectral range between 390 and 750 nm. The throughput of the instrument including the telescope and detector is 11% peak at 500 nm. With this efficiency spectra of stars of visual magnitude 5 can be obtained in 15 min exposure with a S/N of 50. One of the goals of the instrument is to monitor the spectral variability of Balmer emission lines in Be stars.
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For a list of spectroscopy amateur web sites see
for example: http://www.astroman.fsnet.co.uk/
Report on the ESO Workshop on Obscured AGN across Cosmic Time
Fosbury, Robert A. E.; De Breuck, Carlos; Mainieri, Vincenzo; Robertson, Gordon; Vernet, Joël
AA(ST-ECF, ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO) AD(ESO & University of Sydney, Australia) AE(ESO)
While the radio-loud, obscured quasars (the radio galaxies) have been known and studied for decades, new and sensitive X-ray and mid-infrared surveys are now beginning to reveal large numbers of their radio-quiet counterparts beyond the local Universe. Consequent- ly, we are approaching the compilation of a relatively complete census of AGN of all types covering a large fraction of cosmic time. This is revealing a remarkably intimate connection between the supermassive black hole and its host galaxy. The workshop reported here was designed to explore the results of these rapid observational developments and the nature of the relationships between the stellar and AGN components.
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PASP 93, 5
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Conference web site: http://www.eso.org/agnii2007
Report on the ESO Workshop on 12 Questions on Star and Massive Star Cluster Formation
Kissler-Patig, M.; Wilson, T.; Bastian, N.; D'Antona, F.; de Grijs, R.; Froebrich, D.; Galliano, E.; Grosbøl, P.; Johnson, K.; Keto, E.; Klessen, R.; Megeath, T.; Rejkuba, M.; Steinacker, J.; Zinnecker, H.
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(University College London, United Kingdom) AD(Osservatorio di Roma, Italy) AE(University of Sheffield, United Kingdom) AF(University of Kent, United Kingdom) AG(Universidad de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile) AH(ESO) AI(University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA) AJ(Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) AK(Universität Heidelberg, Germany) AL(University of Toledo, Ohio, USA) AM(ESO) AN(Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany) AO(Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany)
The Workshop “12 Questions on Star and Massive Star Cluster Formation” was held in Garching from 3 to 6 July 2007. The programme was set up to allow long (and fruitful) discussions around several questions connecting the formation of stars and star clusters. Here we summarise some of the discussions, and encourage interest- ed readers to download the contributions from http://www.eso.org/star07.
Announcement of a Workshop on Science from UKIDSS
The workshop will take place a few weeks after the UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS) large Third Data Release (DR3). The purpose of the workshop is to provide a forum, bringing together European astronomers working on (or planning to work on) UKIDSS data, to hear about science being undertaken with UKIDSS, and to share knowledge gained in working with the data and ideas for exploiting the archive efficiently, in an informal atmosphere. The emphasis will be on work in progress. The workshop will include science and technical talks, and tutorials, as well as a summary of the current status of the surveys, and an opportunity to discuss the future direction.
Observing at ESO: a New Procedure for Target and Instrument Set-up Changes
Primas, F.; Nass, P.; Hainaut, O.; Sterzik, M.
AA(ESO) AB(ESO) AC(ESO) AD(ESO)
As stated in the ESO Call for Proposals, targets and constraints requested at time of proposal submission (i.e. at Phase 1) are binding, because once the proposals have been evaluated by the Observing Proposal Committee, the requested targets and constraints become one of the major inputs to finalise and optimise the scheduling of the telescopes. However, part of the success of an observatory comes also from the ability to balance operational efficiency (hence rules and procedures) and scientific return. In other words, target and/or instrument set-up changes are allowed also after Phase 1, but only after they have been carefully scrutinised. Their approval is subject to the following conditions:
Gruber Prize in Cosmology Awarded for the Discovery of the Accelerated Expansion of the Universe
Nearly a decade ago astronomers from two competing teams announced that they had found evidence for an accelerated cosmic expansion. The Gruber Prize in Cosmology 2007 honours this achievement and has been awarded to two groups: the Supernova Cosmology Project team, led by Saul Perlmutter (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), and the High-z Supernova Search Team, led by Brian Schmidt (Australian National University). Their results were based on the observations of distant Type Ia supernovae and were obtained with the major telescopes at the time (Riess et al. 1998, AJ 116, 1009; Perlmutter et al. 1999, ApJ 517, 565). Both teams used the 3.6-m telescope and the NTT to contribute photometry and spectroscopic classifications of the supernovae. Four people at ESO were directly involved in the two teams and are recognised as co-recipients of the Gruber Prize. Isobel Hook (now at Oxford University) and Chris Lidman (ESO Chile) were ESO Fellows when they contributed to the work of the Super- nova Cosmology Project, while Jason Spyromilio and Bruno Leibundgut (both ESO Garching) participated in the High-z Supernova Search Team.
Scisoft VII with Virtual Observatory Support
Hook, R.; The Scisoft Team
The Scisoft bundle is a collection of astronomical software intended mostly for ESO users but which is also distributed to other interested parties. It includes most of the packages needed by working observational astronomers, with emphasis on those widely used for handling optical and infrared data sets. Scisoft is installed on almost all the scientific computers running Linux at ESO Garching and widely at the ESO sites in Chile. More complete details can be found on the Scisoft web pages at http:// www.eso.org/scisoft.
Fellows at ESO
Steffen Mieske; Julia Scharwächter