ESO Science Newsletter February 2020 #2
27 Feb 2020
ALMA image of gas environment surrounding HD101584. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson et al.

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

Science announcements

Call for Proposals for Period 106

28 Feb 2020:

The Call for Proposals for observations at ESO telescopes in Period 106 (1 October 2020 – 31 March 2021) has been released. Please consult the Period 106 document for the main news items and policies related to applying for time on ESO telescopes. All technical information about the offered instruments and facilities is contained on ESO webpages that are linked from the Call. The proposal submission deadline is 12:00 CET 26 March 2020.

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ESO Proposal Anonymisation

27 Feb 2020:

ESO strongly encourages applicants to formulate the scientific rationales in their proposals taking into account the anonymisation rules and examples described in this link, which describes the paradigm of the Dual-Anonymous Peer Review (DAPR). While DAPR will be implemented in full in the future and proposal anonymisation is not mandatory in Period 106, applicants should use this opportunity as a dry run to practice writing proposals in the required style.

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Poll to Evaluate ESO's Scientific Priorities - Last Chance to Participate!

26 Feb 2020:

ESO's Science Prioritisation Working Group is tasked with reviewing the ESO programme from a scientific perspective. This working group is composed of members of the Scientific Technical committee (STC), the Users Committee (UC) and ESO staff. The working group has devised a survey to better understand the priorities of the ESO community for the upcoming decade. Invitations to answer the survey have been emailed to astronomers registered on the ESO User Portal and/or on the ALMA Science Portal. If you have received a personal invitation, use the provided link with your unique token. In case you have not received an invitation, or you wish to share the poll with unregistered colleagues, please use this registration link. Please answer the poll on 28 February 2020.

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2020 ESO Users Committee Meeting & Poll

25 Feb 2020:

The Users Committee (UC) represents ESO's astronomical community at large and acts as an advisory body to the ESO Director General on matters related to the performance, scientific access, operation and user interfaces to the La Silla Paranal Observatory and ALMA. The annual meeting of the UC is scheduled on 29 and 30 April 2020. 

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Pitch Your Research for an ESO Press Release for a Chance to Make the News

23 Feb 2020:

ESO produces press releases based on research done with ESO telescopes or instruments, including those where ESO is a partner or that are hosted at an ESO site. At the Department of Communication, we are always searching for exciting and important research to feature in ESO press releases. If you have an interesting story of your own you'd like to pitch for an ESO press release, please send your paper to ESO's Public Information Officer Barbara Ferreira via e-mail at

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Conference: Assessing Uncertainties in Hubble’s Constant Across the Universe

22 Feb 2020:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 22–26 June 2020 

The recently reported discord among Hubble constant determinations – based on the Universe as it is today versus as it was shortly after the Big Bang – is puzzling cosmologists and astrophysicists alike. With the discord's significance rising thanks to improved measurements, the community is getting increasingly excited about the potential for modifications to cosmology. However, questions remain whether systematic uncertainties and biases are sufficiently understood and under control.

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EAS Special Session 13: Eight years of ALMA ground-breaking results

21 Feb 2020:

Leiden, the Netherlands, 3 July 2020 

The European ALMA Regional Centre (EU ARC) offers support to a large community of researchers hosted by European institutions. The support is offered to the ALMA user community through seven ARC Nodes and a Centre of Expertise which are spread across Europe, as well as the central ARC which is at ESO. The aim of this Special Session during the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society is to bring together European ALMA users and the researchers providing support at the different EU ARC Nodes. This is a great opportunity for current and future users of ALMA to discuss new scientific results, observation and data reduction strategies, foster collaborations, and brainstorm on development and implementation of software from the user community. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to identify the need for new capabilities, some of which could be implemented in the near future, such as data combination from different array configurations, pipeline products delivery, and archive mining.

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Conference: Galaxy Cluster Formation (GCF) 2020

20 Feb 2020:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 13–17 July 2020 

Please mark your calendars and register to participate in the second edition of The Early Stages of Galaxy Cluster Formation (GCF) 2020: Mergers, Proto-clusters, and Star Formation in Overdense Environments. Proto-clusters, high redshift galaxy clusters, and merging clusters represent the initial stages in the formation of largest gravitationally-bound structures in the Universe. Forming via mergers and accretion, (proto-)cluster assembly has a decisive impact on their subsequent evolution, and is thus an important process to understand. The aim of GCF2020 is to discuss cluster formation over the last roughly ten billion years, from its beginnings to the present day, with a particular focus on the progress and developments since our first GCF meeting in 2017.

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School: The Tenth VLTI School of Interferometry

19 Feb 2020:

Sophia-Antipolis, France, 6–12 September 2020 

The European Interferometry Initiative (EII) is announcing its 10th OPTICON funded VLTI School. The school is aimed at PhD students, postdocs and astronomers who are new to optical interferometry. The training will address basics of optical interferometry theory, data reduction and interpretation, model fitting, image reconstruction, as well as observation proposals preparation for VLTI. The school’s programme is organised around two themes: one instrumental and one astrophysical. On the one hand, there will be an emphasis on MATISSE, the mid-infrared 4 telescopes beam combiner for VLTI. On the other hand, courses will address the study of young stellar object, protoplanetary discs and planet-hosting stars. The local organising institute is the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur.  

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The Second La Silla Paranal Users Workshop – Optimising Science Output

17 Feb 2020:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 7–9 September 2020 

If you are a La Silla Paranal Observatory user and are interested in face-to-face contact with ESO experts working on various support services, this workshop is for you! The workshop will provide you with all the necessary knowledge to make the most out of ESO data and thereby strengthen your science. It will also give you the possibility to directly interact with ESO staff to answer questions you may have on any aspect of the La Silla and Paranal data workflows, from improving the technical side of your proposals to preparing your observations, reducing data, and/or using the ESO archive. The workshop will also provide timely preparation ahead of the Call for Proposals for Period 107. Further details are available on the workshop website.

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ESO-ESA Joint 2020 Science Workshop: New Science in the Multi-messenger Era

16 Feb 2020:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 14–18 September 2020 

The detection in 2017 of electromagnetic light from a pair of merging neutron stars first identified in gravitational waves ushered in a new era for astronomy. This multi-messenger era is rapidly becoming established with the identification of gravitational wave sources and astrophysical neutrinos occurring at ever-increasing rates, although joint electromagnetic detection remains challenging. This meeting will seek to review the recent dramatic progress in this field, evaluating the science from the current LIGO/VIRGO O3 run that will complete before the workshop. It will also look to what future ESO (E-ELT, next-generation VLT instruments) and ESA (ATHENA, LISA, THESEUS) projects contribute to this nascent field. 

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Conference: Inward bound - bulges from high redshifts to the Milky Way

15 Feb 2020:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 23–27 November 2020 

The formation of bulges is still one of the most debated problems of galaxy evolution. Understanding their formation and evolution, and their interplay with other galaxy structural components provides crucial information on the formation history of galaxies at large. So far, the problem of bulge formation has been addressed following three main strategies, by looking at:  (i) high redshifts, when such structures are still forming; (ii) the local Universe, where a variety of bulges with different properties can be observed; and (iii) the Milky Way, which offers the unique opportunity to study in detail the closest bulge and the properties of its resolved stellar populations. In parallel, extensive theoretical work has been carried out with hydrodynamic simulations of isolated galaxies, idealised mergers, and galaxy formation in the cosmological context, providing a framework for interpreting these observations. Although very different in terms of techniques and diagnostics, these fields of research are very much complementary in the broad framework of the formation and evolution of the central regions of galaxies.

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Data Release 1: VISTA EXtension to Auxiliary Surveys (VEXAS)

14 Feb 2020:

The VISTA EXtension to Auxiliary Surveys (VEXAS) project aims at providing photometric catalogues with the most uniform spatial coverage, in the multi-wavelength sky for various scientific uses such as object classification (e.g., quasars, galaxies, and stars; high-z galaxies, white dwarfs), photometric redshifts of large galaxy samples and identification of exotic objects (e.g., extremely red objects and lensed quasars). This first data release covers the Southern Galactic Hemisphere (SGH) and objects below the Galactic plane, b < -20 degrees.

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Data Release 1: Accretion Discs in Halpha with OmegaCam (ADHOC)

13 Feb 2020:

The ADHOC programme (096.C-0730(A) and 097.C-0749(A), PI G. Beccari) is equivalent to an OmegaCAM mini-survey targeting circumstellar discs in nearby Galactic star-forming regions. The scientific goal of this mini-survey is the study of the star formation history of several star-forming regions using deep, wide field, multi-band observations in the optical filters u, g, r, i and H alpha, with a depth reaching 21 AB magnitudes in r. A total of 8 star-forming regions in the Galaxy were observed.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • Planets2020
    ALMA Offices, Santiago, Chile, 2 – 6 March 2020

    Exploration of the Solar system and subsequent discoveries are made with planetary missions and ground-based observatories. During this workshop, we expect to further explore the synergies between these two ways of exploring space, and to foster collaboration between communities by sharing scientific and technical knowledge, needs, requirements, and techniques. Capabilities of major ground and space based observatories will be discussed, including JWST. We will take advantage of the workshop location to showcase the current and future capabilities of ALMA for planetary science, and encourage planetary scientists to use this facility.

  • Ground-based Thermal Infrared Astronomy - Past, Present and Future
    ESO Garching, Germany, 30 March – 3 April 2020

    Ground-based astronomical observations in the thermal infrared wavelength regime (3-30 microns) provide a powerful tool to discover and characterise the most obscured and cool sources in the Universe. This workshop aims to bring together the experts in the field to review the science highlights from various thermal infrared instruments, from protoplanetary discs to active galactic nuclei. We will review some future facilities, and we will compare techniques and approaches for observations and calibrations, with the aim to reach the theoretical limit, the background-limited performance.

  • COSPAR Capacity Building Workshop: Planetary Sciences Data Analysis
    Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile, 20-31 July 2020

    The goal of the workshop is to develop interesting scientific projects guided by experts of missions as New Horizons, Juno, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Hayabusa 2, MAVEN and representatives of Nasa's Planetary Data System and ESA's Planetary Science Archive.

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