ESO Science Newsletter November 2020
12 Nov 2020

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

Science announcements

Operations Ramp-up at Paranal and La Silla

12 Nov 2020:

The gradual ramp-up of observing facilities at La Silla and Paranal continues, with FORS2, UVES, X-Shooter and MUSE (no-AO) being in operation on Paranal, and EFOSC2 and HARPS in operation on La Silla.  It is planned to add most of the remaining telescope and instrument systems by the end of the year, including the Adaptive Optics Facility at UT4 and the VLTI. The current status of the systems in operations can be consulted here.

Read more

ALMA Operation Support Facility in Ramp-up Phase

11 Nov 2020:

ALMA started the ‘Operation Support Facility (OSF) Ramp-up phase’ on 21 October. During this phase, the focus of the recovery is on returning to normal services at the OSF, including food service, opening of labs and offices, and the confirmation of the stability of critical services.

Read more

Second Data Release of the Fornax Deep Survey (FDS)

09 Nov 2020:

The second data release from the Fornax Deep Survey with VST projects is now available on the ESO archive and it is accessible to the community via the Science Portal, programmatically, and via the Catalogue Query Interface. This data release follows the publication of the refereed paper by Cantiello et al. (2020).

Read more

MUSE back into Operations and Open to Director's Discretionary Time Proposals

30 Oct 2020:

Following the ongoing ramp-up to minimal science operations at Paranal, La Silla and APEX, observations with MUSE have resumed, and the instrument is now available for Director's Discretionary Time proposals.

Read more

Memorial Symposium to Honor Riccardo Giacconi - Presentations Posted

28 Oct 2020:

The Space Telescope Science Institute, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the Johns Hopkins University, European Southern Observatory, and Associated Universities, Inc. organized a Memorial Symposium to celebrate the life and work of our late friend and colleague Riccardo Giacconi. The Symposium was held in Washington, DC at the National Academy of Sciences on 29-30 May 2019. Presentations from the Symposium are now posted.

Read more

Operations of the Wide Field NIR Camera VIRCAM on VISTA to Continue till the End of Period 108

26 Oct 2020:

Due to the implications of the global pandemic and the suspension of science operations at the Paranal observatory since the end of March, ESO has postponed the end of VIRCAM operations, which were originally expected to take place until the end of Period 107 (30 September 2021). VIRCAM operations are now planned to go on until the end of Period 108 (31 March 2022). This extension should allow the completion of the remaining ongoing ESO Public Surveys, as well as Large Programmes approved by the OPC in previous periods.

Read more

ESO Complete In-house Re-processing of 20 Years of UVES 1D Spectra

26 Oct 2020:

As part of ESO’s efforts to offer science data products to its community via the ESO Science Archive Facility, all the spectroscopic data acquired since the beginning of UVES operations at the VLT from March 2000 to March 2020, i.e. 20 years, have been reprocessed. Whenever possible, 1D spectra have been stacked at the OB level. The master calibrations associated with the science data before March 2015 have been reprocessed for better quality and consistency. Due to this reprocessing, some of the early science products not available before are now provided. All 1D spectra products are available from the ESO archive, have quality control plots and associated 2D extracted spectral images.

Read more

X-SHOOTER back into Operations and Open to Director's Discretionary Time Proposals

23 Oct 2020:

Following the ramp-up to minimal science operations started on 9 September at Paranal and APEX (see separate announcement), observations with X-SHOOTER at UT3 have also recently resumed, and the instrument is now available for Director's Discretionary Time proposals.

Read more

New Band-Merged Source Catalog Released by the VVV Survey

09 Oct 2020:

A new version of the VVV VISTA Public Survey source catalog is now available from the ESO Archive. The imaging data in the ZYJHKs bands from which the source catalogue is extracted are acquired under ESO programme 179.B-2002 before the 26th of September 2015.  

Read more

APEX-LABOCA Flux Map of M83 Released

08 Oct 2020:

A new data release is available that includes a flux map at 870 μm for the galaxy M83 (NGC 5236). It is obtained from the combination of the observations taken with the Large APEX Bolometer Camera (LABOCA) at the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), under the ESO programme id 081.C-0827(A), PI A. Lundgren, between 2008-06-19 and 2008-06-30.

Read more

Joint First and Second Data Releases of the X-SHOOTER Spectral Library (XSL)

06 Oct 2020:

The X-SHOOTER Spectral Library project (XSL) aims to build a new, moderate-resolution stellar spectral library for use in stellar population modelling. Once completed the XSL will represent a significant improvement on current empirical stellar spectral libraries in terms of stellar parameters and wavelength coverage. The survey was conducted in two phases: a two-semester pilot survey (084.B-0869 and 085.B-0751) followed up by a Large Programme (189.B-0925), PI S.C Trager. The entire survey delivers spectra of a total of nearly 700 unique stars. The joint science spectra products from the first and second XSL data releases are now available to the community via the ESO archive.

Read more

Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

This ESO/NRAO workshop aims to discuss the emerging new paradigm of planet formation. The program will offer a broad view of the field, covering from the early stages of disks still embedded in their parental envelope to the times when full planetary systems are formed and only a few remnants of the progenitor disk are left. It will also explore the future of planet formation studies, as well as the impact and potential of upcoming instrumentation and telescopes (e.g. ngVLA. E-ELT, SKA, JWST). With this workshop, we aim at creating a more unified view of the exciting discoveries that have taken place in recent years.

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. This also marked the completion of the two last VIMOS Public Surveys: VANDELS and LEGA-C. To commemorate this milestone, we are celebrating a 5-day workshop 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.


Pitch your research for an ESO Press Release for a chance to make the news.
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 that you think could fit the criteria for an ESO press release, please send your paper to ESO's Public Information Officer Barbara Ferreira via e-mail at

Share your photos from ESO sites!
If you are visiting ESO sites and you like to capture your experience on camera, the Department of Communication invites you to share your photos with the world. If you are interested please submit your pictures for evaluation by e-mail.