Portuguese Involvement with the European Southern Observatory

Portugal joined the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in June 2000 and the membership was ratified by the Portuguese Parliament in May 2001.

Portugal currently contributes 1.2% of ESO’s annual revenue, totalling 1 965 000 EUR.

Contracts totally about 1.4 million euro have been awarded to Portuguese industry since it joined the organisation. This does not include Portuguese companies that may have acted as sub-contractors when the prime contractors were in a different country. With the subcontracted companies in Portugal contracts totalling about 4.3 million euro have been placed.

Discoveries by Portuguese astronomers using ESO telescopes

A team led by David Sobral (Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Universidade de Lisboa) used the VLT to discover the brightest galaxy yet found from the early Universe (eso1524).

Jorge Martins (Instituto de Astrofí­sica e Ciências do Espaço and Universidade do Porto) lead the team who first measured the reflected visible light from the famous exoplanet 51 Pegasi b; they used the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory. eso1517

Hugo Messias (Centro de Astronomia e Astrofí­sica da Universidade de Lisboa) was the leader of the group who published the best observations to date of a collision between two galaxies, that took place when the Universe was only half its current age. They used ALMA and other telescopes. eso1426

Michael Bazot (Centro de Astrofí­sica da Universidade de Porto), contributed to the identification and study of star HIP 102152 as the oldest solar twin known to date. eso1337

Xavier Dumusque (Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto) lead the team which discovered an Earth-mass planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B, in the nearest star system to Earth. eso1241

Nuno Santos and Vasco Neves (Centro de Astrofí­sica da Universidade do Porto) are members of the team which estimated that rocky planets not much larger than the Earth are very common in the habitable zones around red dwarf stars; they estimate that there are tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way.  eso1214

N. C. Santos (Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, Portugal and Departamento de Física de Astronomia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Portugal), contributed to the discovery of 50 new exoplanets with HARPS. eso1134

N. C. Santos (Universidade do Porto, Portugal), A. Correia (Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal) contributed to the discovery of the richest planetary system to date: the sun-like star HD 10180 has at least 5 planets, with evidences of 2 additional ones. eso1035

A. Amorim, J. Lima, F. D. Santos, and A. Moitinho (SIM-IDL, University of Lisbon, Portugal), R. Marques and J. Pinhão (University of Coimbra, Portugal), and J. Rebordão (INETI, Amadora, Portugal) contributed to a study of the giant galaxy Centaurus A, which reveals it has recently captured and digested a smaller spiral galaxy. eso0944

Nuno Santos and Sergio Sousa (Centro de Astrofisica, Universidade de Porto, Portugal) contributed to a census of 500 stars, 70 of which are known to host planets. This census, performed with HARPS, suggests that planet-hosting stars would have destroyed their lithium more efficiently than planet-free stars. eso0942

Michaël Bazot (University of Porto, Portugal) and a team of astronomer realized that the star iota Horlogii have drifted away from the Hyades cluster. This discovery has implications on the theories of star and planet formation, as well as for the dynamics of our Milky Way. eso0809

Xavier Bonfils (Lisbon Observatory) contributed to the discovery of the first earth-like planet in the habitable zone of another star. This super-earth is only 5 times the mas off the Earth, and orbit a red dwarf star, already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet. eso0722

Nuria Huelamo (ESO and University of Lisboa) contributed to the discovery that objects only a few times more massive than Jupiter are born with discs of dust and gas, i.e. the raw material for making planets. This suggests that miniature versions of the solar system may circle objects that are some 100 times less massive than our sun. eso0619

Nuno C. Santos (Observatoire de l'Université de Genève, Switzerland, Centro de Astronomia e Astrofisica da Universidade de Lisboa and Centro de Geofisica de Evora, Portugal), Alexandre C. M. Correia (Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal), contributed to the discovery and study of an exo-planetary system composed of three Neptune-mass planets, using HARPS. It also appears that the planetary system contains an asteroid belt. eso0618

Nuno Santos, of the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, contributed to accurately determine the radius and mass of the smallest core-burning star known until now. The star is 96 times heavier than planet Jupiter but only 16% larger. It is the first time that direct observations demonstrate that stars less massive than 1/10th of the solar mass are of nearly the same size as giant planets.  eso0507

Nuno Santos, of the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, contributed to the discovery of the smallest ever extra-solar planet, using HARPS. The planet has only 14 times the mass of the Earth. eso0427

Nuno Santos, of the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory, contributed to the discovery and study of two extra-solar planets.. They belong to the OGLE transit candidate objects and could be characterized in detail. These were the 2d and 3rd exoplanets discovered using that method. eso0415

ISAAC dataset on Orion’s Trapezium - The data also form part of the collaborative research being undertaken by the European Commission-sponsored Research Training Network on "The Formation and Evolution of Young Star Clusters" (RTN1-1999-00436), led by the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, and including the Arcetri Observatory in Florence (Italy), the University of Cambridge (UK), the University of Cardiff (UK), the University of Grenoble (France), the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and the CEA Saclay (France). eso0104

Number of Portuguese astronomers and staff working at ESO

There are currently four Portuguese nationals employed at ESO. Three are in Garching and one in Chile.

Portuguese contributions to ALMA

Total contract value about 2 500 000 euro.

ISQ Inst. de Soldadura e Qualidade Quality Audit of Cryostat Production Contract
SISINT Aluminum Housing prototype for FOM
A. Silva Matos, S.A. Manufacture and Delivery of LPG Storage Tanks
ALMA 23kV (A SOLIDAL – CONDUTORES ELÉCTRICOS, S.A.) Power line ALMA 23 kV (cabling)

Portuguese contributions to the VLT

Total contract value so far has been about 300 000 euros.

MOONS UKATC (Observat. Astronomico de Lisboa) Instrument participation for the MOONS project


Portuguese contributions to the ELT

Total contract value so far has been about 195 000 euros.

Critical Software, SA SW verification and validation process study
Active Space Technologies Conceptual design of the ELT Adaptive Optics Calibration Unit
ISQ Internacional Quality and Product Assurance Services

Other Portuguese Contracts with ESO

Total contract value so far has been about 1 300 000 euros.

ISQ Internacional Inspecções Técnicas S.A. ESO Safety Manual
Critical Software, SA Software Engineer
Risco S.A. Architectural concept development
Individual person Contract for Graphical Work for ePOD
Individual person ePOD Web Development (ESO, IAU, ESA/Hubble)
Exatronic PCB Manufacturing of 50 4CAN-RMC-DC boards
BAM AG (Turbo Constroi Sociedade) Rough Construction Works ESO HQE