ESO Science Newsletter January 2014
27 Jan 2014
The new ESO Garching office building

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


This Newsletter, like all previous ones, shows the diversity of ongoing activities at ESO. In this issue you can find a general overview on what ESO is — and hopefully will become — in a presentation by the ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, to a plenary session of the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington. Other news items include a summary on the P93 selection and scheduling, data releases of the various ongoing Public Surveys and revisions to the calibration of APEX bolometer cameras. As always, we hope that this is useful information. Some of the Newsletter items are regular features, while other news is not recurring. The invitation for three projects, selected from 18 submitted Letters of Intent, to present proposals for VIMOS spectroscopic surveys will not happen so soon again. As always, the list of future workshops, the next one already in two weeks on exo-planets with the E-ELT, is appended at the end of the Newsletter. Like the studentship, fellowship and visitor programmes, these events are great opportunities to interact with people at ESO and provide them with your views of the Organisation.

Over the years there have been plenty of changes at ESO — the Newsletter is one of them. It is planned that this year's poll by the Users Committee (UC) will include some questions concerning this Newsletter, its content and format. I encourage you to respond to the poll when receiving it from your national representative (if you are not sure who your UC representative is, you can check the membership here). Your feedback is important so that we can improve the Newsletter and other services. The Users Committee is the natural channel to bring your concerns to the attention of ESO.

On a personal note, I am very happy to hand over the ESO Science Directorship to Rob Ivison and would like to thank everybody for their support of my work at ESO over the years.

Bruno Leibundgut

Science Announcements

Presentation "ESO: Present and Future" at AAS Meeting

21 Jan 2014:

The ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw, presented a plenary talk at the 223rd American Astronomical Society meeting, held in Washington DC, 5-9 January 2014, entitled "ESO: Present and Future". The talk outlined the development of ESO, summarized the current programme and considered perspectives for the coming decades. A PDF copy of the presentation can be downloaded.

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Period 93 Proposal Statistics and VIMOS Public Surveys

21 Jan 2014:

The 93rd Observing Programmes Committee met on 18-21 November 2013 and recommended three new Large Programmes (one for La Silla, one for Paranal, one for APEX) and one Calibration Programme (UT1/ KMOS). A total of 1079 (10-hour equivalent) nights of visitor and service mode observations on VLT, VISTA and VST, the 3.6-metre, NTT and APEX have been allocated.

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First Release of PESSTO Spectral Data Products

21 Jan 2014:

The Public ESO Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects (PESSTO) is one of the two on-going ESO public spectroscopic surveys. PESSTO aims to deliver high-quality, time series optical and near-infrared spectroscopy of optical transients covering a broad range of luminosity, host metallicity and explosion mechanisms. A summary of PESSTO is available (PDF). Data products resulting from the first release of PESSTO are now available via the Phase 3 query interface at the ESO Science Archive Facility.

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Release of VISTA Deep Extragalactic Observations Survey Data in the VIDEO-XMM Field

20 Jan 2014:

VIDEO is a deep near-infrared survey targeting ~12 square degrees over the ELAIS-S1, XMM-LSS and ECDFS extragalactic fields. VIDEO belongs to the suite of six public surveys being conducted with VISTA. The first public data release (DR1) of the VIDEO programme via the ESO Science Archive Facility, contained 97 individual (i.e. single-OB) tile images in the VIDEO-XMM3 field and their associated single-band source lists. This release (VIDEO-XMM DR2) adds 156 single-OB images in the VIDEO-XMM fields 1, 2 and 3.

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APEX LABOCA and SABOCA Calibration Data

20 Jan 2014:

The online interface to the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) LABOCA and SABOCA calibration data has been significantly updated. The query pages for zenith opacities and calibration factors are affected. The calibration dataset has been fully re-reduced for both bolometer cameras, leading to improvements and using more precise algorithms to better estimate the sky opacity values. Extensive help pages have been added, including descriptions on how to use these data in BoA.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • Exoplanet Observations with the E-ELT
    Auditorium, ESO Garching, 3 - 6 February 2014

    Exoplanet research is one of the major science drivers for the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This community workshop will explore the science cases and the planned capabilities of the E-ELT in the field of exoplanet research. The aim is to provide a synthesis of the goals to be achieved by the E-ELT with its planned instrumentation in the field of exoplanets and the most relevant issues in exoplanet science for the next decade. Topics to be discussed include: initial conditions for planet formation; planetary populations determined from detection surveys; characterisation through resolved imaging and direct and transit spectroscopy; the search for habitable planets.

  • 3D2014 - Gas and stars in galaxies: A multi-wavelength 3D perspective
    Garching, 10 - 14 March 2014

    This workshop aims to bring together the optical/near-infrared, millimetre and radio communities working on 3-dimensional extragalactic data, following on from the similarly themed 2008 workshop. Science topics are centered on both gas and stars in galaxies and examples include dynamics, AGN and supermassive black holes, high redshift galaxies and deep fields. Tools to visualise and analyse multi-wavelength data cubes will also be discussed. In association with the workshop, three parallel user workshops on reduction and analysis of 3D data from KMOS, MUSE and ALMA will be held. Further details can be found here.

  • Herbig Ae/Be Stars: The Missing Link in Star Formation
    Santiago, ESO Santiago, 7 - 11 April 2014

    Herbig Ae/Be (HAeBe) stars are a class of early-type pre-main sequence objects whose stellar mass corresponds to the transition regime between Solar-type stars and high-mass stars. They are generally bright at most wavelengths allowing a detailed view of their evolving environment and are pivotal objects for the formation of both stars and planets. The high-resolution observational and theoretical advances of the past 10 to 15 years provide the primary motivation and the evolution of the circumstellar disk material constitutes the main, but not the exclusive topic, for the workshop. Areas to be addressed include circumstellar disk structure, transition and debris disks, disk dispersal, jets and outflows, young clusters and the impact of future instrumentation.

    This workshop will commemorate the life and work of George H. Herbig (2 January 1920 - 12 October 2013). Herbig pioneered the field of star formation, especially that of young stars and their nebulous surroundings. A brief appreciation of his life and work can be found at

  • The Formation and Growth of Galaxies in the Young Universe
    Obergurgl, Austria, 26 - 30 April 2014

    It is now about 4 years since the last galaxy evolution ski conference at the University of Innsbruck Obergurgl Center. Since then several major surveys have been completed by Hubble and Herschel, wide-field near-infrared imaging has been delivered by VISTA, SCUBA2 has commenced sub-mm surveys on the JCMT, near-infrared multi-object spectrographs have commenced operation on 8-m class telescopes, and the first results have emerged from ALMA and Planck. The aim of this meeting will be to review and discuss these observational advances, alongside progress in theory/simulation, with a dual focus on galaxy/black-hole evolution at z > 2 and reionization/first-galaxies at z > 6.

    The meeting will consist of invited and contributed talks and there will space for posters. Each day will be split to allow ~4 hours for lunch/skiing/scientific discussion between 12pm and 4pm. More details here

  • Clustering Measurements of Active Galactic Nuclei
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 14 - 18 July 2014

    Galaxies and active galactic nuclei (AGN) are not randomly distributed in the Universe. The distribution of AGN, measured by clustering, enables new insights into the physical conditions that govern the accretion onto supermassive black holes and AGN clustering can provide constraints on cosmological parameters. AGN clustering measurements have gained significant interest in the last decade and upcoming large surveys will generate samples with several million objects. These surveys offer the unique opportunity to study AGN and galaxy co-evolution, AGN physics, and cosmology with AGN clustering measurements.

    This ESO workshop, which will be the first ever dedicated workshop to AGN cluster ing, aims to summarize our current understanding of AGN clustering and how the community should prepare for upcoming datasets and challenges. More details are available on the workshop web page, or by email. Registration closes on 18 April 2014.