ESO Remains World’s Most Productive Ground-based Observatory
29 March 2016
A survey of peer-reviewed scientific papers published in 2015 and using data from ESO’s telescopes and instruments has shown that ESO remains the world’s most productive ground-based observatory. Astronomers used observational data from ESO facilities to produce 860 refereed papers last year.
There were 550 papers credited to ESO in 2015 that used data acquired with either the Very Large Telescope (VLT) or the VLT Interferometer facilities on Cerro Paranal. The three most productive VLT instruments in terms of papers are UVES, FORS2 and X-shooter, which featured in 144, 91 and 78 papers, respectively. Data from the VISTA survey telescope on Cerro Paranal led to 73 papers.
Facilities located at La Silla provided data for more than 200 papers in total. HARPS remains La Silla’s most productive instrument, with 81 papers to its name, an increase of ten over last year.
The number of papers based on European observing time with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) reached a total of 73 for 2015, and 32 papers were based on observations made with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX) in ESO-APEX observing time. APEX is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the Onsala Space Observatory and ESO, and is operated by ESO on the Chajnantor Plateau in Chile’s Atacama region.
A comparison of the number of papers produced using facilities at major observatories worldwide puts ESO’s observatories at the top of the list. Note that the methods used to obtain these numbers differ from one observatory to another, so the figures cannot be compared precisely. Nevertheless, it is clear that ESO continues to significantly surpass any other ground-based observatory and on the available figures remains slightly ahead of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
These results highlight ESO’s major contribution to astronomical research. The publication statistics give an idea of how much scientific work is carried out with data from the individual observatories, but do not address the wider impact they have on science.
The figures are published in the annual Basic ESO Publication Statistics  published by ESO’s Library and calculated using the ESO Telescope Bibliography (telbib), a database containing refereed publications that use ESO data . ESO makes extensive efforts to identify all refereed papers that use ESO data and considers telbib essentially complete.
Interactive graphs of selected statistics are also available online. These graphs display the entire content of the telbib database , which contains records for publications from the year 1996 to the present. They can be used to explore many aspects of the publication history, including the development of science papers using data from ESO instruments and the use of archival data.
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