ESO Science Newsletter October 2019
23 Oct 2019

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

Science announcements

Update Regarding Travel to ESO Sites in Chile

23 Oct 2019:

Recent developments in Chile have led to disruption in transportation, including flight cancellations, affecting the normal function of some Chilean cities. ESO is monitoring the situation closely and has implemented measures to continue to ensure the well-being of its staff and visitors, including visiting astronomers and instrument team members. Travel to and within Chile has been limited, and this may have an impact on some ESO operations in Vitacura and at La Silla, Paranal and APEX sites. 

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2020 ESO Studentships

22 Oct 2019:

The ESO research studentship programme provides an outstanding opportunity for PhD students to experience the exciting scientific environment at one of the world's leading observatories. ESO's studentship positions are open to students enrolled in a university PhD programme in astronomy or related fields. Students accepted into the programme work on their doctoral project under the formal supervision of their home university, but they come to ESO to work and study under the co-supervision of an ESO staff astronomer for a period of between one and two years.

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Call for Letters of Intent for 4MOST surveys

20 Oct 2019:

4MOST is a state-of-the-art, high-multiplex, fibre-fed, optical spectroscopic survey facility currently under construction for ESO’s 4-metre VISTA telescope. During the first five years of operations, 4MOST will be used to execute a comprehensive, integrated programme of both Galactic and extragalactic Public Surveys. In addition, the ESO community will also be asked to propose for surveys with 4MOST. The process of selecting the Community Surveys will be initiated by a "Call for Letters of Intent for Public Spectroscopic Surveys" which will be announced in an upcoming issue of the Science Newsletter later this year.

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European Interferometry Initiative: Fizeau Exchange Visitors Program

19 Oct 2019:

The Fizeau exchange visitors program in optical interferometry funds visits of researchers to institutes of their choice within the European Community to perform collaborative work and training on one of the active topics of the European Interferometry Initiative. The visits typically last for one month, and strengthen the network of astronomers engaged in technical, scientific and training work on optical/infrared interferometry including ESO's VLTI. The programme is open to all levels of astronomers (from PhD students to tenured staff), with priority given to PhD students and young postdocs. Non-EU based missions will only be funded if considered essential by the Fizeau Committee. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to seek partial support from their home or host institutions.

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ESO User Portal Upgrade

17 Oct 2019:

Since its release in November 2007 the ESO User Portal has successfully served the community by providing single-point access to a variety of services covering everything from proposal submission to data retrieval. Over the years new features have been added, most notably Phase 2, Phase 3, and Data Access Rights delegation. Starting in mid-October another upgrade has been performed. As a complement to the newly-released p1 proposal system, users who wish to submit and/or referee proposals can provide additional information in their User Portal profile. This is a first step towards better handling of the refereeing process, in particular regarding bias assessment/mitigation. ESO User Portal account holders can also supply their ORCID iD to enable robust associations between researchers and their publications using ESO data.

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Web-based Phase 2 Tool for La Silla

16 Oct 2019:

 Starting in October 2019 the web-based replacement for the ESO Phase 2 observing preparation tool P2PP named p2ls, has been released for operations at La Silla.  p2ls replaces P2PP for (designated) Visitor Mode observations of all instruments available at La Silla. Note that p2ls is the La Silla counterpart of the Paranal tool p2.

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SPHERE DDT observations using the new star-hopping technique

15 Oct 2019:

The performance of the star-hopping technique in observations with SPHERE has recently been assessed and described in the instrument's User Manual. It has been shown that this technique can boost the signal-to-noise ratio in exoplanet studies, particularly at small separations (0.1") from the star. In order to encourage future observations exploiting the new technique, DDT observations under programme ID 2103.C-5076 will soon be performed and the data made immediately public on ESO's Science Archive Facility. ESO will inform users through this Science Newsletter once the observations have been completed.

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New Issue of The Messenger Online

14 Oct 2019:

The latest edition of ESO's quarterly journal, The Messenger, is now available online. In issue 177 highlights include an article on the recent spectacular results from the Event Horizon Telescope and the role of ALMA in obtaining these as well as the future plans of the EHT consortium; read about ESO's recent Distributed Peer Review experiment – can it replace conventional Peer Review? Enjoy some spectacular images from the Total Solar Eclipse last July as witnessed by lucky visitors at La Silla and early results from science experiments conducted during totality. Also read about what the PHANGS surveys are uncovering about star formation in nearby galaxies using ESO and ALMA.

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Workshop: Science with APEX

12 Oct 2019:

Schloss Ringberg, Germany, 2–5 February 2020 

In the last two years, APEX has been significantly improved by upgrades of the antenna itself as well as by the commissioning of new instruments almost continuously covering the range from 157 to 732 GHz. These improvements have been most visible at the highest frequencies, which have now become standard operations. Two new wide-field bolometer cameras are also expected to come online in the next 2 years. The science with APEX workshop will bring together APEX users and other interested scientists working on a wide range of exciting results covering the Solar System to distant galaxies in the early Universe. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to present new science results and to look into new science opportunities for the next years.

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ESO-ESA Joint 2020 Science Workshop: New Science in the Multi-messenger Era

10 Oct 2019:

ESO Headquarters, Garching, Germany, 14–18 September 2020 

The detection in 2017 of electromagnetic light from a pair of merging neutron stars first identified in gravitational waves ushered in a new era for astronomy. This multi-messenger era is rapidly becoming established with the identification of gravitational wave sources and astrophysical neutrinos occurring at ever-increasing rates, although joint electromagnetic detection remains challenging. This meeting will seek to review the recent dramatic progress in this field, evaluating the science from the current LIGO/VIRGO O3 run that will complete before the workshop. It will also look to what future ESO (E-ELT, next-generation VLT instruments) and ESA (ATHENA, LISA, THESEUS) projects contribute to this nascent field. 

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Data Release: Fifth Data Release from VMC Public Survey

08 Oct 2019:

The VISTA Magellanic Survey (VMC) led by Principal Investigator Maria-Rosa Cioni aims to determine the spatially resolved star formation history and the three-dimensional geometry of the Magellanic Cloud system. The sensitivity in Y, J and Ks filters has been designed to reach sources below the oldest main-sequence turn-off point of the stellar population and through the multi-epoch coverage to measure accurate Ks mean magnitudes for pulsating variable stars like RR Lyrae and Cepheids. Data Release 5 (DR5), published on 01 Aug 2019, provides the complete set of observations covering the Small Magellanic Cloud field (~40 square degrees), it also includes tiles from the bridge (~20 square degrees) and the stream (3 square degrees) for a total of 42 VMC survey tiles.

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Data Release: Deep MUSE IFU Observations of Nearby Edge-On Galaxies

06 Oct 2019:

Deep IFU data cubes are now released for a sample of eight nearby edge-on galaxies: ESO 157-49, ESO 443-21, ESO 469-15, ESO 544-27, IC 217, IC 1553, PGC 28308 and PGC 30591. These galaxies were observed with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) integral field unit at the VLT with the aim of studying the formation mechanism of the thick discs in these objects. These deep science data cubes are characterised by long exposure times, typically three hours, and careful removal of the sky background from the target exposures rather than offset skies. 

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Data Release: VISTA Public Survey VEILS DR1

04 Oct 2019:

The VISTA Extragalactic Infrared Legacy Survey (VEILS) is one of the Cycle 2 VISTA Public Surveys. It is a deep J- and Ks-band transient and wide-field survey that has the following goals: understanding the epoch of reionisation, the build-up of massive galaxies, and constraining the cosmological equation of state using both Type 1a supernovae and AGN dust lag measurements. VEILS covers 9 square degrees of the extragalactic sky over 3 fields: XMM-LSS, CDFS and ELAIS-S1. This first data release (DR1) contains pawprint images (239 in J and 225 in Ks) and deep stacked pawprints (72 in total over the 3 cosmological fields), together with associated confidence maps and single-band J and Ks source lists. 

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ESO/ESA Data Release: NACO and XMM Observations of the Galactic Centre

06 Sep 2019:

Recent observations suggest that the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy is going through a special accretion event. In the framework of the ESA/ESO agreement, coordinated observations with the Very Large Telescope and the XMM-Newton observatory were taken on the night of 31 August 2019. This joint near-infrared and X-ray monitoring effort aims at constraining the physical processes that regulate accretion by supermassive black holes and the subsequent variability in the emission of radiation. To facilitate a prompt and broad exploration of this rich dataset, the ESO data collected with the NACO instrument have been made publicly available at the ESO Science Archive Facility (under Programme ID 2103.B-5061). Further, the XMM-Newton dataset is also publicly available at the XMM-Newton Science Archive.

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • 2nd ESO-Australia Conference: The Build-up of Galaxies through Multiple Tracers and Facilities
    Perth, Australia, 17-21 February 2020

    By 2020, the first major results will be obtained from a huge variety of “pathfinder” facilities that are operating with entirely new types of survey instruments. These pathfinders have the common aim of untangling galaxy evolution physics. This is the main purpose of the second Australia-ESO conference, enabling serious conversations about the future coordination of next-generation galaxy evolution surveys.

  • 2020 La Silla Observing Summer School
    Santiago and La Silla Observatory, Chile, February 3-14 2020

    The school includes lectures on the basics of observing techniques and will teach participants on how to prepare for observing with ESO telescopes. The participants will work on specific science projects within groups and observe at the NTT at La Silla Observatory, after which they will reduce and analyse their datasets and present their findings.