Exoplanets have become central to astrophysics. The formation and evolution of exoplanets can now be explored with instrumentation and observational techniques covering multiple physical scales and wavelengths. The composition and substructures of planet-forming disks can be observed directly to witness and characterise young proto-planets in formation. Planetary atmospheres, architectures and demographics can be systematically scrutinised to refine our understanding of the physical processes at play in the formation of giant and terrestrial planets, and in favorable conditions for the emergence of life. ESO facilities provide access to a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum to probe cold and hot phases, dynamics and interactions, close and distant environments, and the relations with the host star. Observations with different ESO facilities have led to unique discoveries, e.g. the PDS 70 planetary system, and can successfully be used in synergy with space facilities, e.g. HST, CHEOPS, TESS, GAIA, JWST.
The 110th Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) met online in May 2022. Based on the committee’s recommendations to the ESO Director General, a total of 2221 (10-hour equivalent) nights of (Designated) Visitor Mode and Service Mode observations were allocated on the VLT/VLTI, 3.6-metre and NTT, and APEX telescopes. The submission deadline for Phase 2 observations is Thursday, 4 August 2022; see the separate announcement for further details.
With the release of the La Silla Paranal telescope schedule, the Phase 2 preparation for runs scheduled in Service Mode begins. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 110 observations is Thursday, 4 August 2022.
A VLTI-HOW: The VLTI High angular resolution Observations Workshop will take place at ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile on 10-21 October 2022. This ESO/IAU predominantly hands-on workshop aims at training a new generation of scientists from Chile and Latin American countries in how to access, analyse, and use Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) data for their research projects. The curriculum will also cover topics important for career development such as proposal and grant writing, job hunting, and work ethics. Moreover, the workshop will encourage new scientific collaborations across nations.
The Near InfraRed Planet Searcher (NIRPS) instrument, mounted on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, has successfully performed its first observations. The instrument will focus its search on rocky worlds, which are key targets for understanding how planets form and evolve, and are the most likely planets where life may develop. NIRPS will search for these rocky exoplanets around small, cool red dwarf stars — the most common type of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, which have masses from about two to ten times smaller than our Sun.
A major technical intervention was completed on ESPRESSO in May to address the instrument stability and the detector system performances. The improvement has been noticeable, achieving an internal drift below 10 cm/s and the detector’s readout noise below 6e- for the fast readout mode. The instrument is back in operation. The updated ESPRESSO performances will be included in the next version of the User Manual.
The European Interferometry Initiative (EII) is announcing its 11th VLTI School, funded by the Opticon/Radionet Pilot programme, which will take place in Budapest between 12 and 17 June 2023. The school is aimed at PhD students, postdocs and astronomers who are new to optical interferometry. The training will address basics of optical interferometry theory, data reduction and interpretation, model fitting, image reconstruction, as well as observation proposals preparation for VLTI. The local organising institute is the Konkoly Observatory in Hungary.
A detailed report of the ALMA Cycle 9 Proposal Submission Statistics is now available. The report provides a summary of items such as the number of submitted proposals and time requested, subscription rates, and comparisons with the number of hours requested in previous Cycles. The report can be downloaded as a pdf document.
UltraVISTA (PIs J. Dunlop, M. Franx, J. Fynbo, O. LeFèvre, Programme ID 179.A-2005, 198.A-2003) is an ultra-deep near-infrared ESO Public Survey targeting the central region of the COSMOS field. This public survey started in April 2010 and has been completed during the VISTA Public Survey Cycle II in 2022. This new release (DR4.1) contains two independent multi-wavelength photometric catalogues, computed using different techniques. The CLASSIC catalogue is generated using an aperture photometric measurement method as that adopted in the previous COSMOS2015 catalogue. The second catalogue, labelled FARMER, is created using a new profile-fitting photometric tool which the UltraVISTA team developed. The FARMER catalogue uses a source list derived independently from the CLASSIC one. The data present in the previous COSMOS2015 catalogue have been reprocessed to take advantage of the improved astrometry from the Gaia reference catalogue.
Science workshops are an essential component of ESO's programmes and represent a unique opportunity to promote and foster ideas and collaborations within the scientific community. Every year, through the Directorate for Science, ESO provides support and funding to organise scientific workshops in Santiago and in Garching, as well as co-funding some external workshops (see ESO Workshops calendar). A new Call has been issued inviting community astronomers to submit proposals for ESO workshops to be held in 2023. Community astronomers can submit their proposals alone or teaming up with ESO staff and fellows in Chile and/or in Germany. Note that ESO has implemented a Code of Conduct for Workshops and Conferences, which applies to all meetings funded by ESO, hosted at ESO premises or organised as online events.
GRAVITY+ is the ongoing upgrade of GRAVITY and the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) with wide-separation fringe tracking, new adaptive optics, and laser guide stars on all four 8-m Unit Telescopes (UTs), for ever-fainter, all-sky, high contrast, milliarcsecond interferometry. GRAVITY+ just reached its first milestone: GRAVITY Wide.
Gaia-ESO is an ESO Public Spectroscopic Survey (under ESO Programme IDs: 188.B-3002, 193.B-0936, 197.B-1074; PIs: Gerry Gilmore & Sofia Randich) carried out with GIRAFFE and UVES on the VLT between 2012 and 2018. The survey targeted more than 100,000 stars, with 115,000 actually observed by the end of the survey. These stars are selected across all major components of the Milky Way, from halo to star-forming regions, with the goal of providing an homogeneous overview of their kinematics and elemental abundance distributions.
ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) is the state of the art of Infrared Interferometry. With its second-generation instruments (PIONIER, GRAVITY, MATISSE) and undergoing an upgrade to extend the capabilities to faint sources (i.e., many more scientific topics and targets), the VLTI will play a key-role in the ELT era and beyond 2030. At the same time the VLTI has a vast unexplored data archive calling for data mining.
The predominantly hands-on workshop "VLTI-HOW" aims at training a new generation of scientists from Chile and Latin American countries how to access, analyse, and use VLTI data for their research projects. The curriculum will also cover topics important for career development such as proposal and grant writing, job hunting, and work ethics.
Euclid is a high profile ESA mission with important participation from NASA and ground-based observatories around the world, to be launched in 2023. Euclid will provide near-IR imaging and slitless spectroscopy of a quality impossible to achieve from the ground (1). The mission aims at characterizing with unprecedented accuracy the properties of Dark Energy by mapping the evolution of the large-scale structures of the Universe over the past 10 billion years. In addition to the primary cosmology science case, Euclid will have a major impact on our understanding of galaxy formation, from cosmic dawn to the present time.
The workshop will address ESA/ESO synergies and beyond, for realizing the full potential of the Euclid legacy programmes. Sessions will cover three major areas of research: high-redshift objects in the wide-and deep Euclid surveys, evolution of galaxies and their nuclear black holes at intermediate redshifts, and galaxies in the local universe.
Exoplanets have become central to astrophysics. The formation and evolution of exoplanets can now be explored with instrumentation and observational techniques covering multiple physical scales and wavelengths. The composition and substructures of planet-forming disks can be observed directly, and we witness and characterize young proto-planets in formation. Planetary atmospheres, architectures and demographics can be systematically scrutinized to refine our understanding of the physical processes at play in the formation of giant and terrestrial planets, and in favorable conditions for the emergence of life. ESO facilities provide access to a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum to probe cold and hot phases, dynamics and interactions, close and distant environments, and the relations with the host star. Synergies between the ESO facilities have led to unique discoveries, e.g. the PDS 70 planetary system, and can successfully be used in synergy with space facilities, e.g. HST, CHEOPS, TESS, GAIA, JWST.
This workshop aims to provide an overview of the state of the field, to explore the synergies provided by ESO’s current and future facilities (ALMA/ELT/VLT/VLTI/La Silla telescopes/CTA), and synergies with other space and ground-based observatories (GAIA, JWST, PLATO, Roman observatory, LRIOUV, GMT, TMT). The main goal is to identify future scientific opportunities to consolidate key questions in planetary formation and characterization, contrasting and comparing how planned and potential instruments can answer them.