Science Announcements

First Data Release from the VST survey of Early-type GAlaxieS (VEGAS)

Published: 03 Feb 2021

VEGAS is a deep multi-band (u'g'r'i') imaging survey of bright (MB<-21mag) early-type galaxies in the local volume within 54 Mpc/h carried out with OmegaCam on the VLT Survey Telescope (VST; see also the VEGAS website). Observations are based on the VST Guaranteed Time Observation assigned to the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics under programme ID runs: 089.B-0607(A), 090.B-0414(B,D), 091.B-0614(A), 092.B-0623(B,C,D), 094.B-0496(D), 095.B-0779(A), 096.B-0582(B), 097.B-0806(A,B), 098.B-0208(A), 099.B-0560(A), and 0100.B-0168(A).

Update on the Period 107 Special Call for Proposals

Published: 29 Jan 2021

As previously announced, ESO is implementing a Special Call (hereafter SC107) for the submission of projects consisting of novel and urgent observations that could be executed during P107 (April 1 – September 30, 2021). SC107 will be open only to proposals concerning a highly compelling and competitive scientific topic, requiring urgent observations; proposals of a risky nature, requiring a small amount of observing time to test the feasibility of a programme; and proposals asking for follow-up observations of a programme recently conducted from ground-based and/or space telescope facilities, where rapid implementation holds the promise of breakthrough results. Only up to 15% of the time dedicated to science observations will be available through SC107. It is therefore expected that only exceptional, highly rated science cases may be allocated telescope time. Resubmissions of previously rejected proposals will not be considered.

Olivier Chesneau Prize 2021

Published: 28 Jan 2021

Olivier Chesneau, one of the most active and prolific members of the optical interferometry community, passed away in May 2014, at the age of 41. To honour his work in this field, his home institute, the Laboratoire J.-L. Lagrange at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in France, and ESO established a prize in his memory. Since 2015, the prize has been awarded biennially for the best PhD thesis completed in the field of high angular resolution optical astronomy.

Paranal, La Silla, and APEX Update

Published: 28 Jan 2021

Paranal Observatory is in restricted operations, with almost all systems available for scientific observations: FORS2 and KMOS@UT1, UVES and FLAMES @UT2, SPHERE and X-Shooter@UT3, MUSE@UT4 with the AOF, ESPRESSO at the incoherent combined focus, OmegaCAM@VST, VIRCAM@VISTA, and Gravity/MATISSE/PIONIER @ VLTI. HAWK-I@UT4 recommissioning is foreseen for later in Q1. VISIR recommissioning is suspended until Q2 at the earliest. Regular operations with the NTT and 3.6m telescopes are ongoing at La Silla. Visitors are performing their observations remotely in designated visitor mode. APEX ended the year with restricted operations, almost 1300 hours of hours on sky, and the last run (ever) of one of the most successful APEX instruments ever, i.e., LABOCA. Currently scientific operations are suspended as the annual deep telescope and instrument maintenance is taking place. This period is aligned with the worst weather season for science at the site, the 'Altiplanic winter'.

ALMA Recovery Status Update

Published: 27 Jan 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic persists all around the world, ALMA staff at the JAO and in the regions continue to work towards bringing the array back online, with the ultimate goal to resume science operations and deliver high-quality science data to its users. At this moment, the ALMA antennas are in the process of being powered up and inspected after having been stowed for about 300 days.

New series of ESO Cosmic Duologues

Published: 25 Jan 2021

ESO is happy to announce the start of the new series of ESO Cosmic Duologues. Started in 2020, the ESO Cosmic Duologue series aim at covering the current state of some of the biggest questions in astronomy in a lively way. The program of the new events is now available on-line. The first event of 2021 will be entitled The Big-Bang Nucleosynthesis: Concordance or New Physics? and will take place on Tuesday 26 January at 3pm (Central European Time). For each duologue, ESO invites two speakers who will present in short, dynamic talks, their side on a challenging scientific subject, or on a topic related to the sociology of science. The duologues will be streamed live on the dedicated YouTube channel.  All astronomers are invited to remotely attend the talks. 

How ESO Impacts Society: New publication highlights ESO’s benefits to its Member States

Published: 22 Jan 2021

ESO is a testament to research, innovation, and collaboration in Europe with a far reaching and invaluable impact on society. A new publication, “ESO’s Benefits to Society”, explores ESO’s contributions to its Member States across five areas: science and engineering, economy and innovation, talent development, education and outreach, and international collaboration and policy. Impact indicators and case studies provide arguments as to why your work matters and why society should continue to invest in astronomical research.

Pitch your Research to ESO Communications to Reach a Broad Audience

Published: 22 Jan 2021

Are you an author on an upcoming scientific study based on ESO data? If you think your study could be relevant for the wider public or journalists, please consider pitching it to ESO’s Department of Communication by sending your paper to ESO's Media Manager Bárbara Ferreira at

New Website for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope Launched

Published: 14 Jan 2021

ESO has launched a new website to deliver a wealth of information about the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). Created for a wide range of audiences, the general public and astronomy experts alike can dive into the website to discover the new telescope, its instruments, some of the history behind this ambitious and challenging telescope, as well as how it will further our knowledge of the cosmos.

Message from the Director General

Published: 22 Dec 2020

The year 2020 will go into history as an exceptional one in almost every area of human activity. While we are still suffering the direct impact of the global pandemic and these will surely continue for some time, the end of the year is a suitable occasion to sincerely thank the efforts of our scientific community to carry on producing excellent science. I also wish to express my appreciation to all ESO staff and to our partners and contractors in the Member States and Chile for finding creative ways of enabling our projects to move forward, and of resuming astronomical observations and the delivery of scientific data. Last but not least, my warmest thanks to the Member State delegations in our governing bodies for their continued, unfailing and invaluable support to ESO.

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