Science Newsletter December 2014
19 Dec 2014
Work on the peak of Cerro Armazones

This newsletter is a summary of recent ESO Science Announcement items. Follow the links or visit ESO Science Announcements to read more.

Science Announcements

Shaping ESO2020+ Together: Users Poll

19 Dec 2014:

The ESO Science Prioritisation Working Group has been tasked with reviewing the ESO programme from a scientific perspective. To tension the current and planned programme against new possibilities, the Working Group has today launched a poll, so that you can share with us your scientific priorities.

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Phase 2 for Period 95

18 Dec 2014:

The allocation of ESO telescope time for Period 95 is expected to be emailed on 22 December 2014. With the release of the telescope schedule, preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 95 observations is 5 February 2015 for all instruments except VISIR.

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SPHERE Science Verification

17 Dec 2014:

SPHERE Science Verification (SV) took place from 4 to 11 December 2014 on VLT UT3. Out of 67 submitted proposals, 40 programmes were scheduled for a total of 88.4 hours of observations. Nineteen programmes were completed, with an additional 9 programmes receiving partial data sets. Some more SV time is planned in February 2015 and it is hoped to undertake some of the remaining 12 observing programmes.

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E-ELT Two-Phase Construction

17 Dec 2014:

As announced in the Organisation Release eso1440, the ESO Council has approved the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) in two phases and authorised spending of around one billion euros for the first phase. This first phase will cover the construction costs of a fully working telescope with a suite of powerful instruments and first light targeted in ten years. The context for this decision is reported in an article (PDF) in the December issue of The Messenger.

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Exchange of FORS2 Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector

16 Dec 2014:

The coatings of the FORS2 linear atmospheric dispersion corrector (LADC) prisms have degraded, so it was decided to replace them with the uncoated prisms of the twin FORS1 LADC. The exchange took place on 10 November 2014 and the performance of the prisms has been extensively tested.

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ESO GOODS Data Products Now Entirely Served by Phase 3

15 Dec 2014:

The ESO GOODS advanced data products are now available via the Science Data Product query forms of the ESO Archive Facility.

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MUSE Pipeline Version 1.0 Available

15 Dec 2014:

The MUSE pipeline recipes version 1.0 are available and can be obtained here. With respect to the previous release, many aspects have been significantly enhanced based on analysis of commissioning data. The V1.0 pipeline includes improvements to the bias subtraction and cosmic ray rejection, better smoothing of the response function, redesign of the twilight flatfield handling and a per slice illumination correction to take into account thermal effects. A detailed Cookbook is also available.

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Supercam Installed on APEX

14 Dec 2014:

After an intensive installation campaign, the Supercam visiting instrument has been successfully installed in the Cassegrain cabin of APEX. Supercam is a 64-pixel 345 GHz heterodyne array built by the University of Arizona

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ALMA Cycle 3 Pre-announcement

14 Dec 2014:

The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) will start the next cycle of observing (Cycle 3) in October 2015. A Call for Proposals will be issued on 24 March 2015, with an anticipated deadline for proposal submission on 23 April 2015. Cycle 3 operations will include standard and nonstandard modes, with non-standard mode observations being conducted on a best-effort basis similar to previous Cycles. More details here.

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Joint ESO MPA MPE TUM Excellence Cluster Universe Conference:
Theoretical and Observational Progress on Large-scale Structure of the Universe

12 Dec 2014:

Joint Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 20–24 July 2015

The conference will cover both theory and observations of the large-scale structure of the Universe to discuss recent progress and future directions. Measuring the distribution of matter in the Universe as a function of time and space is a powerful probe of cosmology, both for gravity on scales much greater than the conventional tests of General Relativity and the origin of cosmic acceleration. Statistical properties of the matter distribution can also constrain the nature of initial fluctuations, hence the physics of inflation and the neutrino mass.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • ESO in the 2020s
    ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 19–22 January 2015

    This workshop will provide a forum for discussion of the likely astronomical landscape in the 2020s - both core science and burning topics. Flowing from these considerations, the community is invited to advise the ESO Executive with regard to future facilities. The workshop will include high-level summaries and ample time for discussion and presentation of new ideas to shape the future of ESO. Details are available from the workshop webpage or by email.

  • Baryons at Low Densities: the Stellar Halos around Galaxies
    ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 23–27 February 2015

    Stellar halos are ubiquitous in luminous galaxies, but their low surface brightness hampers detailed study in distant galaxies. Recent surveys have however revaled low luminosity extended structures in a variety of galaxies. This workshop aims to bring together theorists and observers to discuss the results from ground- and space-based surveys of stellar halos in disk and elliptical galaxies, as well as from simulations. The properties of the Milky Way halo will also be discussed as representative of those of a halo around a spiral galaxy. More details can be found on the workshop web page; the registration deadline is 20 January 2015.

  • Ground and Space Observatories: A Joint Venture to Planetary Science
    ESO – ESA Workshop, ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 2–5 March 2015

    Exploration of the Solar System and subsequent discoveries are made with planetary missions and ground-based observatories. These two means are complementary and are sometimes strategically linked. During this workshop, the synergies between these two paths will be explored, with the aim to foster collaboration between both communities. The workshop will showcase the current and future capabilities of ALMA for planetary science, encouraging planetary scientists to use this facility. The registration deadline is 20 January 2015. See the workshop announcement for more details.

  • Dissecting Galaxies Near and Far
    ESO Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 23–27 March 2015

    Angular and spectral resolutions are fundamental limitations to our understanding of the properties of galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. Current facilities allow the ISM and star formation to be probed in unprecedented detail from the local Universe to intermediate redshift. The aim of this workshop is to further this understanding at high spatial and spectral resolution. Synergies between current and future facilities, particularly with ALMA, and between the extragalactic and Galactic communities, will be encouraged. Further information can be found on the workshop webpage. The registration deadline is 23 January 2015.

  • ALMA Community Days: Cycle 3 Proposal Preparation
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 13–15 April 2015

    The ESO ALMA Regional Centre (ARC) will organise another Community Days workshop in order to optimally prepare the European astronomical community for ALMA Cycle 3, whose call is due to be released in March 2015. The 2015 Community Days will focus on the practical aspects of proposal preparation as well as hands-on tutorials for the ALMA Observing Tool and the Simulators. These will enable novice and advanced users alike to create observing projects making full use of ALMA's scientific capabilities in Cycle 3. Further information can be found here; the registration deadline is 27 March 2015.

  • Satellites and Streams in Santiago
    ESO Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 13–17 April 2015

    Satellite galaxies, streams and the star cluster – dwarf galaxy interface are inter-related. Galactic satellites and streams should be regarded together – satellites result from low-mass substructures while tidal streams trace the disruption of these substructures by the host's gravitational potential. Both contribute to the assembly of the host galaxy and provide a unique opportunity to test and improve our understanding of structure formation at small and large scales. This workshop aims to bring together experts from both fields to explore the bigger picture. More details can be found on the workshop webpage. The deadline for abstracts is 10 January 2015.

  • ALMA/Herschel Archival Workshop 2015
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 15–17 April 2015

    Despite the huge difference in spatial resolution, Herschel sources provide ideal targets for ALMA follow-up. The workshop will focus on ALMA/Herschel scientific synergies and archival research with both archives. Mutual awareness of Herschel and ALMA data archive contents will be promoted with: science cases, covering a broad range of astrophysical topics; the exploration and visualization of Herschel and ALMA data products; and assistance to users in the preparation of Cycle 3 ALMA proposals based on existing Herschel data. For more details please refer to the workshop webpage; the deadline for oral presentations is 15 March 2015, and 31 March 2015 for participants.

  • Gas, Dust and Star-Formation in Galaxies from the Local to Far Universe
    Platanias – Chania, Crete, Greece, 25–29 May, 2015

    Spitzer, Herschel and Planck have enabled important steps forward in our understanding of the nature of galaxies. While Herschel has studied, in unprecedented detail, the distribution and properties of dust and star formation in nearby galaxies, deep infrared and sub-mm surveys have revealed a large population of massive, gas-rich, intensely star-forming galaxies, which have no local analogues. The extrapolation of the physical processes and scaling laws from low to high redshift could provide new keys to solve this problem. In the near future ALMA will open a new era of studies of resolved high-redshift populations. This meeting will be the opportunity to exchange new findings, confronting the problems of the communities studying nearby and distant objects. The programme will be split into long and short review talks, introducing each sub-session, contributed talks and discussions. More details can be found on the workshop webpage; the deadline for abstract submission is 26 January 2015.

  • Stellar End Products: The Low Mass - High Mass Connection ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 6–10 July, 2015

    Mass loss from cool Asymptotic Giant Branch and Red Supergiant stars inputs large amounts of material to the ISM and is therefore an important process for understanding stellar lifecycles and galactic ecology. Significant advances in observations (e.g. VLTI, ALMA and other facilities), and theory, now provide an opportunity to revisit outstanding questions of late stellar evolution, such as the role of mass loss, magnetic fields and binarity. The meeting aims to bring together observers and theorists from the low and high mass stellar communities with the goals of exploring the commonalities of evolved star mass loss. Further information can be obtained from the conference website or by email. The deadline for abstract submission is 6 April 2015.