ESO Science Newsletter June 2019
14 Jun 2019
The VLT platform becomes reflective after a rainshower. (Credit: A. Ghizzi Panizza/ESO)

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 Science Verification Proposals for ESPRESSO in 4-UT Mode

14 Jun 2019:

The ESPRESSO 4-UT mode is a new capability offered at the VLT. The commissioning of this instrument mode is nearing completion, and an integral part of this process is Science Verification (SV). SV programmes include a set of typical scientific observations that should verify and demonstrate to the community the capabilities of the new instrument in the operational framework of the VLT Observatory. ESO encourages the community to submit highly challenging or risky science observations that will push ESPRESSO in 4-UT mode to its limits in order to better understand the performance parameter space and its constraints.

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Introducing the 2019 ESO Fellows - Germany

12 Jun 2019:

The Offices for Science and the Astronomy Faculty are very pleased to present the 2019 ESO Fellows. Here is an introduction to the Fellows due to start in Garching, Germany later this year.

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Introducing the 2019 ESO Fellows - Chile

12 Jun 2019:

The Offices for Science and the Astronomy Faculty are very pleased to present the 2019 ESO Fellows. Here is an introduction to the Fellows due to start in Chile later this year.

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ESO Annual Report 2018

11 Jun 2019:

The ESO Annual Report 2018 is now available. It presents a summary of ESO’s activities throughout the year, outlining progress on the design, construction and operation of ground-based astronomical facilities, as well as various initiatives to promote and organise astronomical research.

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Data Release 4: VST ATLAS Public Survey - New Imaging and Multi-Band Catalogue Data

09 Jun 2019:

The ESO Public Survey ATLAS with VST (ESO programme ID: 177.A-3011; PI: Tom Shanks) is targeting 4700 square degrees of the southern sky in u,g,r,i and z bands to depths comparable to those of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey SDSS (r ~ 22). Its wide wavelength coverage, from the u to z band, complements the VISTA, VHS and VIKING Surveys in YJHK bands. This fourth data release (DR4) provides new stacked reduced images and associated source lists for the period Oct 2014 to July 2017 and reprocessed stacked reduced images, associated source lists and the band-merged catalogue from the beginning of observations in August 2011 to July 2017. DR4 data contain a global photometric calibration based on Gaia. The basic data reduction of the VST imaging was carried out at the Cambridge Astronomical Surveys Unit (CASU), while the band-merged catalogue was produced by the Wide Field Astronomy Unit (WFAU) at Edinburgh.

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Data Release 2: Large Programme Dissecting GAs Stripping Phenomena in Galaxies

07 Jun 2019:

This is the second data release from the ESO Large Programme Dissecting GAs Stripping Phenomena in galaxies (GASP; 196.B-0578; Principal Investigator: B. Poggianti). This completes the release for this programme and provides deep MUSE 3D cubes observed in wide field mode and natural seeing plus ancillary products, comprising the observations taken from Periods 99 to 101. The scientific goal of the large programme is to study galaxies at z = 0.04-0.07 in different environments. For each target galaxy, the released science data products are the reduced and combined MUSE 3D data cubes that can be queried and downloaded via the Archive Science Portal here.

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Commissioning Data from NEAR Search for Planets Around Alpha Cen

05 Jun 2019:

The instrument VISIR has been moved to UT4 and modified to search for planets around Alpha Cen as part of the experiment called New Earths in the Alpha Cen Region (NEAR; see Kasper et al., 2017). The first data of alpha Cen from NEAR commissioning have been released and are available. Please see the commissioning page for more details. This programme is being supported by the Breakthrough Initiatives, see this recent press release for more details.


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Workshop: Extragalactic Spectroscopic Surveys - GALSPEC2019

03 Jun 2019:

ESO, Santiago, Chile, 25–29 November 2019 

VIMOS, the VIsible Multi-Object Spectrograph, was decommissioned in March 2018. After 15 years of operations, VIMOS has amassed over 9700 hours of science data, mostly devoted to spectroscopic surveys of galaxies across cosmic time. To commemorate this milestone, a  five-day workshop is being held to review past and current spectroscopic surveys on galaxy evolution (both with ESO and non-ESO instruments), as well as to explore future surveys that will be soon enabled by new MOS and IFU facilities. The workshop will bring together the low- and high-z extragalactic communities to review progress and prepare for the challenges ahead.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • The Very Large Telescope in 2030
    ESO, Garching, Germany, 17-20 June 2019

    This workshop has been organised to discuss future science uses of the VLT when the ELT will be operational. The workshop consists of invited reviews and contributed talks to discuss potential development paths for VLT and VLTI. Discussion topics include new and improved VLT and VLTI instrumentation, potential modifications or upgrades to the facilities, changes in the operations model and synergies with other facilities.

  • Artificial Intelligence in Astronomy
    ESO, Garching, Germany, 22-26 July 2019

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, with breakthroughs appearing almost daily in the news. This workshop has two aims: to present the current landscape of methods and applications in astronomy and to prepare the next generations of astronomers to embark on these fields. There will therefore be a few invited talks by prominent speakers to set the scene, which will be complemented by a series of contributed talks and several tutorial and hands-on sessions in order to provide an overview of the current use of AI in astronomy.

  • High-Resolution Spectroscopy in the Era of ALMA, JWST and ELT
    Sexten, Italy, 22-26 July 2019

    This workshop brings together researchers working with one of the leading facilities available today (ALMA) in order to plan for the next generation (JWST, ELT). A key premise of the workshop is that astronomers must harness the high spatial resolution spectroscopic capabilities of each of these facilities in a multi-wavelength approach, in order to reach their scientific goals. The meeting is focussed around techniques, rather than a specific science area, in order to capture the combined scientific power of all facilities, and aims to bring together researchers in different astrophysical areas (star and planet formation, evolved stars, resolved stellar populations, galaxy evolution).

  • A synoptic view of the Magellanic Clouds: VMC, Gaia and beyond
    ESO, Garching, Germany, 9-13 September 2019

    More than 60 years ago, the Magellanic Clouds provided crucial impetus for the construction of large telescopes in the southern hemisphere and the foundation of ESO. This workshop will provide a fertile forum for shaping the future of research related to the Magellanic Clouds by showcasing state-of-the-art results based on advanced observational programmes as well as discussions of expectations and projections in anticipation of highly multiplexed wide-field spectroscopic surveys (e.g., 4MOST, MOONS) which will come online in the 2020s. The Magellanic Clouds are our nearest example of dwarf galaxies in an early stage of a minor merger event. The distribution of their stars and gas indicate an active history of formation and interaction.

  • Extremely Big Eyes on the Early Universe
    Rome, Italy, 9-13 September 2019

    Over the next decade, the commissioning of ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), as well as of the GMT and TMT will allow the high-redshift Universe to be seen using new "eyes" with unprecedented power. By themselves or in combination with other facilities, these new eyes will have the potential to transform the understanding of the formation and early evolution of galaxies and black holes, first light and cosmic reionisation, as well as the evolution of the intergalactic and circumgalactic media. This conference will bring together an international group of experts to review the current state of the art in the study of the high-redshift universe and discuss how best to use giant telescopes to learn about it. 

  • The Extragalactic Explosive Universe
    ESO, Garching, Germany, 16-19 September 2019

    At the turn of this decade, a number of moderate-sized telescopes were equipped with digital cameras of around 10 square degrees. The relative cost of detectors and computing had reduced to a level where rapid, real-time processing of the imaging data provided monitoring of large sky areas every few days. This revolutionised the field of time domain astronomical surveys and we have witnessed a vast array of new discoveries. These new data-driven initiatives are joined by the exciting prospect of routine detections of gravitational wave sources and electromagnetic follow-up.The conference will focus on the rich physics that has arisen from these discoveries and multi-wavelength follow-up programmes. Theory and modelling experts will also be a key part of the meeting, with a focus on how open data products can be provided to enhance model and data testing.

  • ALMA2019: Science Results and Cross-Facility Synergies
    Cagliari, 14-18 October 2019

    ALMA is the world’s most sensitive facility for millimetre/submillimetre astronomical observations, and will soon be fully operational in all of the originally planned bands. Since its first observations, ALMA has routinely delivered groundbreaking scientific results that span nearly all areas of astrophysics. Science topics at this conference include all fields of astronomy, from cosmology and galaxies in the distant Universe, nearby galaxies and the Galactic Center, interstellar medium and star formation in our Galaxy, astrochemistry, circumstellar disks, exoplanets, solar system, stellar evolution, and the Sun. Scientific priorities for the implementation of the ALMA Development Roadmap will also be discussed.