ESO Science Newsletter October 2014
22 Oct 2014
Gum 15 star forming region

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

Science Announcements

Commissioning of SPHERE

21 Oct 2014:

The most recently installed instrument at Paranal, the ESO Planet-finder instrument SPHERE, underwent its last commissioning run during 05 – 15 October 2014. SPHERE saw first light on 04 May 2014 (see the Release) and was followed by three periods of commissioning in May, July and August 2014.

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Move of X-shooter to UT2

21 Oct 2014:

After a year at UT3, X-shooter was re-installed at UT2 earlier this month to make room for the re-commissioning and integration of VISIR on UT3, which will start next month. In spite of poor weather conditions, which delayed the precise measurement of the telescope focus for X-shooter, the long list of recommissioning tasks, were completed as planned, thanks to the efficient work of the science and engineering teams. Routine science operations with X-shooter have re-commenced.

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HARPS Pipeline Processed Data Available Through Phase 3

21 Oct 2014:

Pipeline processed HARPS echelle data are now available as Science Data Products via the Phase 3 spectral query form. The data consist of 1D spectra in the ESO/SDP format and the tar files containing unaltered output of the HARPS pipeline (DRS v. 3.5), as previously available.

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Dissecting Galaxies Near and Far

21 Oct 2014:

ESO Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 23–27 March 2015

Angular and spectral resolutions are fundamental limitations to our understanding of the properties of galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. The advent of state-of-the-art facilities with high angular and spectral resolution capabilities coupled with high sensitivity, such as ALMA, allows the interstellar medium and star formation properties of galaxies at intermediate redshift to be probed in unprecedented detail, along with their counterparts in the local Universe.

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ESO Period 95 Proposal Statistics

17 Oct 2014:

The proposal submission for ESO Period 95 (1 April – 30 September 2015) closed on 01 October 2014. 931 proposals were received, including 17 Large Programme and 50 Target of Opportunity (ToO) proposals, for a total of 2428 nights.

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Agreement Signed to Build MOONS

15 Oct 2014:

The Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph (MOONS) is a red and near-infrared (0.64 – 1.8 μm), medium (R=4000) and high (R=20000) resolution, multi-object spectrograph with 1024 fibres, planned for installation at the  VLT Nasmyth focus in 2018. The agreement to build MOONS was recently signed between ESO and the MOONS Consortium, composed of institutes from the ESO Member States and led by the UK STFC. See the public announcement for details.

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Release of New Imaging Data for VISTA Magellanic Clouds Survey

13 Oct 2014:

New data products from the VISTA Survey of the Magellanic system Public Survey (VMC) are now available via the dedicated Phase 3 query interface. The current release is based on the observations of five new VMC survey tiles (three in the LMC and two in the SMC), as well as on improved reduction of two tiles released earlier.

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Baryons at Low Densities: the Stellar Halos around Galaxies

10 Oct 2014:

ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 23–27 February 2015

Stellar halos are ubiquitous in luminous galaxies, but their low surface brightness hampers detailed study in distant galaxies. With the advent of large cameras and surveys, several late- and early-type galaxies have revealed similar low luminosity extended structures. These halos have complex morphologies with multiple stellar components, kinematics and substructures indicating the merger history. The halo morphologies resemble the density maps from cosmological simulations of galaxy formation in a hierarchical Universe.

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Ultra-deep Ks-band Imaging Data of the UDS and GOODS-South Fields Released

07 Oct 2014:

The HAWK-I Ultra Deep Survey and GOODS Survey (HUGS) is an near-infrared imaging survey executed with HAWK-I (PI: A. Fontana); an overview can be found here. HUGS covers two CANDELS extragalactic fields: a sub-area of the UKIDSS Ultra-Deep Survey (UDS) and GOODS-South. HUGS delivers the deepest, highest quality images ever collected in the K-band: to Ks=27.3 (1σ) in UDS and to Ks=27.8 in GOODS-South. Deep Y-band images in the UDS field have also been acquired.

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IMPRS Studentships

07 Oct 2014:

If you wish to conduct a PhD in astronomy-astrophysics within one of the largest centres of astrophysical research in the world, which covers every subject from planets, stars, and galaxies to cosmology, you should seriously consider applying to the IMPRS studentship programme in Munich.

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ESO in the 2020s

18 Sep 2014:

ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 19–22 January 2015

This workshop will provide a forum for discussion of the likely astronomical landscape in the 2020s - both core science and burning topics, in so far as these can ever be predicted. Flowing from these considerations, the community is invited to advise the ESO Executive with regard to future facilities, including, but not limited to, those at the existing optical/infrared observatories on La Silla and Paranal, at the sub-millimetre observatories APEX and ALMA on Chajnantor and at the European Extremely Large Telescope to be built on Cerro Armazones.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • HIRES 2014: Astronomy at High Angular Resolution – A Cross-disciplinary Approach
    ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 24–28 November 2014

    Recent years have seen a huge development in high-resolution techniques such as direct methods (e.g., adaptive optics, lucky imaging), interferometry (including speckle imaging and spectro-astrometry) and reconstruction methods (astrotomography). This workshop aims to bring together the different communities working in these fields increasing the synergies among them. A variety of imaging and spectroscopic techniques will be covered, applied to a range of astronomical targets. Current and future instrumentation for high angular resolution will also be featured. More detailed information is available on the workshop webpage. The registration deadline is 24 October 2014.

  • Revolution in Astronomy with ALMA – The 3rd Year –
    Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan, 8–11 December 2014

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been producing a growing number of impressive and transformational science results as the most powerful mm/submm interferometer in the world. This workshop will highlight the science results from ALMA obtained during the first three years of science operations. Science topics include all fields of astronomy: cosmology and galaxies in the distant Universe; nearby galaxies and the Galactic Centre; the interstellar medium and star formation in our own Galaxy; astrochemistry, circumstellar disks, exoplanets and the Solar System; stellar evolution and solar physics; and fundamental physics.The final registration deadline is 15 October 2014 and more details are available from the conference website.

  • ESO in the 2020s
    ESO Workshop, ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 19–22 January 2015

    This workshop will provide a forum for discussion of the likely astronomical landscape in the 2020s - both core science and burning topics. Flowing from these considerations, the community is invited to advise the ESO Executive with regard to future facilities. The workshop will include high-level summaries and ample time for discussion and presentation of new ideas to shape the future of ESO. Details are available from the workshop webpage or by email. The deadline for registration and contributed talks is 12 December 2014.

  • Ground and Space Observatories: A Joint Venture to Planetary Science
    ESO – ESA Workshop, ESO Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 2–5 March 2015

    Exploration of the Solar System and subsequent discoveries are made with planetary missions and ground-based observatories. These two means are complementary and are sometimes strategically linked. During this workshop, the synergies between these two paths will be explored, with the aim to foster collaboration between both communities. The workshop will showcase the current and future capabilities of ALMA for planetary science, encouraging planetary scientists to use this facility. Abstract deadline is 20 November 2014 with final announcement about 9 January 2015. See the workshop announcement for more details.

  • Satellites and Streams in Santiago
    ESO Workshop, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile, 13–17 April 2015

    Satellite galaxies, streams and the star cluster – dwarf galaxy interface are inter-related. Galactic satellites and streams should be regarded together – satellites result from low-mass substructures while tidal streams trace the disruption of these substructures by the host's gravitational potential. Both contribute to the assembly of the host galaxy and provide a unique opportunity to test and improve our understanding of structure formation at small and large scales. This workshop aims to bring together experts from both fields to explore the bigger picture. More details can be found on the workshop webpage.