Dutch Involvement with ESO

The Netherlands was one of the founding members of ESO, in 1964.

The Netherlands currently contributes 5.18% of ESO’s revenue, worth 8 414 000 EUR.

Discoveries by Dutch astronomers using ESO telescopes

The Netherlands has lead and contributed towards a considerable amount of astronomical discoveries with the use of ESO telescopes in the past few years.

  • In November 2015, Karina Caputi at the University of Groningen led an international team in the search for the youngest massive galaxies in the Universe. They used VISTA to survey the sky at near-infrared wavelengths, and made a census of faint galaxies when the age of the Universe was between 0.75 and 2.1 billion years old. (eso1545)
  • In December 2015, Nienke van der Marel at Leiden University led an international team in the study of transitional discs. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), they were able to map the gas and dust around four young stars, better than ever before. (eso1549)
  • In June 2016, Catherine Walsh at Leiden Observatory led an international team to make the first detections of methanol in a planet-forming disc. The organic molecule was found with ALMA. (eso1619)
  • In November 2016, Jos de Boer and Christian Ginski of Leiden Observatory, and Tomas Stolker of the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy all led teams in the study of protoplanetary discs. The three teams used the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), revealing a multitude of different discs. (eso1640)
  • In December 2016, Massimo Viola at the Leiden Observatory co-led a team consisting of many Dutch astronomers and other international scientists. ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) was used to make a survey of millions of galaxies which showed that dark matter may be smoother that we originally anticipated. (eso1642)

Number of Dutch astronomers and staff working at ESO

There are currently sixteen Dutch nationals employed at ESO or working as students. Fourteen are in Garching and two are in Santiago, Chile.

Dutch contributions to the La Silla Observatory

Between the years of 1979 and 2006, the Dutch 0.9-metre telescope was installed at La Silla, and contributed towards different discoveries. (press releases)

Built and operated by Leiden University, MASCARA (the Multi-site All-Sky CAmeRA) is a planet-hunting instrument that consists of two individual stations, one operating in each hemisphere. The second station lies in the south and takes advantage of the excellent observing conditions at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. (ann16041)

BlackGEM is a wide-field array of optical telescopes comprising initially of 3 telescopes, with the aim to expand to 15. It is jointly developed by Radboud University, the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), and the KU Leuven. The array is largely robotic and remotely controlled from Radboud University.

Dutch contributions to the Paranal Observatory

The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) developed and built the Optical Tube Assemblies for the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LSGF) on the VLT. (ann12012)

The OmegaCAM is mounted on the VST, and is made up of 32 individual CCDs arranged in a mosaic. It was built by a large consortium consisting of institutes based in Germany, Italy, ESO and led by the Netherlands (NOVA, Kapteyn Instituut, and OmegaCEN). (eso1119)

Dutch contributions to the ELT

METIS, the Mid-infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph, is led by NOVA (Leiden Observatory and ASTRON) and built by a consortium of many other European countries. The powerful spectrograph will allow studies of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, from exoplanet atmospheres to distant or active galaxies. (ann15073)

The contract to design and produce the qualification models for the segment support and related auxiliary equipment for the Primary Mirror have been contracted to the VDL Groep. The contract will run for 30 months initially, consisting of preliminary and detailed design phases followed by producing engineering models, then testing. (ann15003)