ESO Science Newsletter May 2016
04 May 2016
First light of the VLT Four Laser Guide Star Facility

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

Science Announcements

Survey on Non-Publishing ESO Programmes (SNPP)

04 May 2016:

A recent study by Sterzik et al. 2015 (Messenger article) has revealed that the number of ESO observing programmes not leading to refereed publications is significant, exceeding 50%. This return rate applies also to highly ranked, fully completed programmes. Although this fraction is comparable to those measured at other large ground-based astronomical facilities, it is very important for ESO to identify the underlying reasons, in order to investigate possible avenues to increase the scientific return of its facilities.

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First Light for the 4LGSF

02 May 2016:

First light for the Four Laser Guide Star Facility (4LGSF) was achieved on 26 April 2016 (see the Release). The four 22-watt laser beams excite sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere to provide four point sources for adaptive optics systems to compensate the atmospheric turbulence. 4LGSF is an integral part of the Adaptive Optics Facility (AOF), which includes a deformable secondary mirror (DSM) and the GALACSI and GRAAL modules. The complete facility will gradually be commissioned over the next year and a half.


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Application for ESO Studentships

29 Apr 2016:

The ESO research studentship programme provides an outstanding opportunity for Ph.D. students to experience the exciting scientific environment at one of the world's leading observatories for a period of up to two years.

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Phase 2 Ephermerides Generation for Moving Targets

29 Apr 2016:

A new version of the Phase 2 page dedicated to the observation of moving targets has been released. This page offers a new web form for generation of ephemerides files directly in parameter file format (PAF) ready to be attached to an Observation Block (OB). The new ephemerides file generator in PAF format was developed at IMCCE in Paris, who kindly offered to host the web form for ESO Phase 2 observation preparation.

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Period 97 Instrument Pipeline Packages Released

28 Apr 2016:

From the start of Period 97 (1 April 2016), updated versions of all VLT/VLTI data reduction pipelines are publicly available. The pipelines are available on the VLT instrument pipelines page.

A mailing list has also been created so that users can subscribe to receive announcements of new pipeline releases. To join this mailing list, please send an e-mail to eso-pipelines-announce-join.

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ESO Reflex Available on Paranal Workstations

27 Apr 2016:

In order to support data reduction by visiting astronomers and instrument scientists, ESO Reflex, the workflow environment for VLT/VLTI pipelines, has been installed on all offline workstations on Paranal. ESO Reflex, and the pipeline workflows that are supported by ESO Reflex (listed here), have been made available in Paranal from April 2016 as part of the change of Observing Period (P97).


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ALMA Cycle 4 Call for Proposals - Closed

25 Apr 2016:

The Call for Proposals for ALMA Cycle 4 (October 2016 – September 2017) closed on 21 April 2016. Over 1600 proposals were received, very close to the number of proposals for Cycle 3. Included were also 29 proposals for Large Programmes and 22 proposals for VLBI observations.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • Resolving Planet Formation in the Era of ALMA and Extreme AO
    Joint ESO, ALMA, NAOJ, NRAO Workshop. ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 16–20 May 2016

    Results from ALMA Long Baseline observations and from SPHERE, GPI and other high-contrast AO instruments herald new developments in the fields of protoplanetary and debris discs, and planet formation. For the first time observations of the regions where planets form are achievable. The workshop will discuss the state-of-the-art results, offering a panchromatic view, with a balance between observations and theory. Discussions will be scheduled on how facilities, such as JWST, E-ELT and TMT, and progress in modeling, will advance the field of planetary formation. Details on the workshop webpage.

  • Active Galactic Nuclei: What's in a name?
    ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 27 June – 1 July, 2016

    Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are being discovered in ever-larger numbers over the whole electromagnetic spectrum. Different bands (infrared, optical/UV, X-ray, γ-ray and radio) employ different methods to identify these sources but, most importantly, provide different windows on AGN physics. The main goal of the Workshop is to paint the AGN big picture within a truly multi-wavelength approach and to understand the intrinsic and fundamental properties of AGN and the physics behind them. Further details on the website.

  • MUSE First Year Science and Beyond
    EWASS 2016, Athens, Greece, 4–8 July 2016

    The VLT wide field optical integral field spectrograph MUSE has opened up exciting new perspectives in many different areas of observational astrophysics, including star forming regions, stellar populations, local and distant galaxy kinematics and high-z galaxy studies. The Symposium will cover the full range of topics tackled by MUSE observations and highlight key results from the first year of observations. Particular aims are to: share experience regarding observing strategy, reduction and analysis; discuss challenges to interpret and model MUSE data; and stimulate synergies with other facilities. Full details on the EWASS webpage for Symposium S3.

  • Discs in Galaxies
    Joint ESO, MPA, MPE, LMU, TUM and Excellence Cluster Universe Conference. ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 11–15 July 2016

    The aim of this conference is to explore the importance of stellar and gaseous discs in a variety of galaxies from high redshift to the Milky Way within the context of new observations and numerical simulations. Stellar and gaseous discs represent the most important structural component in normal galaxies and interpreting their early formation and destruction, via observations and numerical simulations, indicates the key processes that shape the eventual Hubble sequence.
    This conference will provide a timely and wide ranging exploration of discs in galaxies from observational and theoretical aspects. More details here.

  • Supernovae Through the Ages
    Workshop co-funded by ESO, Easter Island, 9–13 August 2016

    Supernova science has entered a golden age with daily announcements of new discoveries and the rate set to increase with new facilities. As supernova sample sizes increase, well-observed nearby events will still provide insights into progenitor properties and explosion mechanisms. The conference aims at addressing these challenges (and others) through "understanding the past to prepare for the future" with a focus on past, present and future surveys, including also explosion models, progenitors, their link to stellar evolution and the first supernovae.
    The conference celebrates the contributions that Mark Phillips and Nicholas Suntzeff have made to this field. Further details are available on the workshop webpage.