Paranal News

The section provides the latest telescope and instruments new from theParanal Site. Older news from Paranal prior to 2006 can be found in the Previous News page.

Telescope News

2013

  • Nov 20, 2013: recoating of M1, M3 of UT2 completed
  • Sept 11, 2013: recoating of M1, M3 of UT4 completed
  • April 1, 2013: The VST is currently out of service between March 29, 2013, and April 2, 2013 due to a multiple damage of cables and cooling lines after an incident caused by the failure of a limit switch. All damaged parts were replaced or repaired.
  • February 26, 2013: The Laser Guide Star system at UT4 has recently been successfully upgraded with a fibre Raman laser (AOF prototype) delivering improved on-sky performances as well as enhanced operational stability and maintenance. Full characterization of the upgraded system will soon be available. This intervention will result in a dramatic increased in the availability of the LGS system for science operations.

 


Instrument News

2015

  • June 23: VIRCAM is back in operation. A short power cut today affecting all instruments caused further problems but were quickly solved this time.
  • June 22: NACO is back in operation, with the camera wheel fixed on S13. However, despite 8 attempts, it was not possible to recover the detector fully: NACO will thus be operated with 3 quadrants only.
  • June 19: KMOS is back in operation.
  • June 18: UVES is back in operation following the power cut. Problems still affect KMOS. If the detector is fine, NACO could be back in operation on June 19th. VIRCAM should be operational at the earliest on June 21.
  • June 17: HAWK-I is recovered.
  • June 16: FORS2 is back in operation.
  • June 15: FLAMES-GIRAFFE, SPHERE, VIMOS, MUSE, and OmegaCAM are back in operation following the power cut.
  • June 14: Passively cooled instruments could be back in operation as fast as the rest of the infrastructure allowed, such as X-shooter and SINFONI. However problems still affect UT1, UT3, VST and many systems.
  • June 12: A power cut affected the whole observatory: caused by the failure of a back-up generator while the main (gas) turbine was undergoing maintenance. No operation took place on the nights of June 12th and 13th. 
  • May 21: VISIR is warming up in advance of an intervention aimed at fixing a problem with the astatic support found as the cause of the observed drift. It is expected that the instrument would be back in operation on July 7th.
  • May 13: FLAMES discovers a new kind of globular star cluster
  • May 12: The cause of the drift seen with VISIR has been identified and requires a new intervention to fix the problem. 
  • April 30: MUSE reveals The Pillars of Creation in 3D
  • April 16: Together with Hubble, SINFONI observations show that star formation shuts down in the centres of elliptical galaxies first
  • April 15: Has MUSE found the First Signs of Self-interacting Dark Matter?
  • April 2: SPHERE enters regular operation. Note however that most DIT/NDITs need to be updated. See the SPHERE News page for details.
  • April 2:  A drift problem affects observations for most targets with VISIR, limiting objects to bright ones for imaging and excluding spectroscopic observations.
  • March 26: SINFONI has provided the Best View Yet of Dusty Cloud Passing Galactic Centre Black Hole
  • March 20: NACO: The mechanism that allows to switch objectives suffered a severe failure and CONICA had to be warmed up to be serviced. See more details in the NACO News.
  • March 11: VST- OmegaCAM finds A Grand Extravaganza of New Stars
  • March 5: Start of the work to refurbush the VLTI Laboratory. MIDI has been decommissioned. Note that the instrument web page has been moved! The VLTI will be offered again in Period 96.
  • March 5: CRIRES has mapped the distribution of H2O and HDO on Mars: The Planet that Lost an Ocean’s Worth of Water
  • March 04: KMOS: After an intervention to upgrade all arms, the instrument is handed back to Science Operation for recommissioning and testing.
  • February 26: MUSE goes beyond Hubble: Looking Deeply into the Universe in 3D
  • February 18: First SPHERE Science results: The Strange Case of the Missing Dwarf
  • Feburary 9: FLAMES:
    • The cleaning of the Giraffe HR grating was again successfully performed at the end of January 2015, resulting in an increase in efficiency estimated to be in the range 10-20% for bluer settings.
    • On the afternoon of February 2, 2015, an update of the focussing procedure was implemented in FLAMES/Giraffe. This results in significant increase in both spectral resolution and sensitivity across all settings, although these enhencements vary from setting to setting. See the FLAMES News page.
  • February 9: Stellar Partnership Doomed to End in Catastrophe
  • February 4: VISTA Stares Right Through the Milky Way
  • January 22: KMOS Arm 2 was put in simulation.
  • January 17: NACO is resuming operation. The new Aladdin2 (former ISAAC LW) detector installed in CONICA features slightly different noise properties than the Aladdin3. In addition, there is a significant additional thermal background that will slightly reduce the dynamic range and detection limits when long exposure times are used, associated with short wavelength broadband filters. See more details in the NACO News.

2014

  • December 4: SPHERE Science Verification has started.
  • December 2: KMOS  Arm 19 was put into simulation
  • November 21: KMOS  Arm 8 was put into simulation.
  • November 18: KMOS  Arm 4 was put into simulation.
  • November 15: The FORS2 LADC, which was suffering from a poor coating, was replaced by the one of FORS1 whose coating had been removed. This led to a gain in throughput of 0.1 ( in the blue), 0.07 (in V), 0.05 (in I), and 0.04 (in I) magnitudes, due to a reduction of the scattering. See the FORS2 news page for updates.
  • October 6: KMOS Arms 5,6,7,and 16 have been replaced, Electronics of Arm4 were changed. All arms except 11 are back in operation.
  • NACO: updates following the move of NACO to UT1 can be seen on the NACO news page.
  • August 24: KMOS arm 7 is parked, locked and in simulation
  • August 6, 7: KMOS arm 5 is parked, locked and in simulation; arm 15 is recovered and back in operation
  • July 17: last night of operation for CRIRES before the start of the upgrade
  • July 7: on July 4, an anomalous noise was heard coming from inside the OMEGACAM's cryostat. By precaution, the instrument was out of operation on the nights of July 4 and 5th.
  • June 20 - 29: MUSE Science Verification
  • June 4: press release describing the first light of SPHERE.
  • June 2: speeds of the grating wheel of SINFONI had to be decreased
  • May 31: KMOS arm 15 is parked, locked and in simulation
  • May 20: KMOS arms 4 and 11 are temporarily out of operations.
  • May 20: FLAMES ETC with improved efficiency measures at all settings.
  • May 10: start of the SPHERE commissioning.
  • April 1: KMOS Arm 11 is back in operation.
  • March 5: press release describing the first light of MUSE.
  • March 1: Limiting magnitudes for AMBER in the K-band has increased, owing to polarization control.
  • February 21: KMOS was successfully recommissioned after an intervention to lower the vibration and to repair the arms that were locked during the last months. Arm 11 is still not available, all other arms work well within the specifications.
  • February 7: start of the MUSE commissioning.
  • January 7: KMOS arm 11 is parked, locked and in simulation.
  • January 7: UVES red arm CCD shutter failure. See the UVES News page.