Austrian Software Tools Developed for ESO

30. maj 2014

As an additional part of the Austrian contribution when it joined ESO, two specialist teams from institutes in Austria have developed software tools that offer significant improvements over traditional methods.

A team from the University of Innsbruck [1] has developed atmospheric correction algorithms and software methods, and at the University of Vienna [2], a team of astronomers and mathematicians has developed software for the automatic combination of data from separate astronomical observations in order to create final mosaicked products.

The new atmospheric correction approach models and corrects for the influence of the Earth’s atmosphere on observational data obtained with ground-based telescopes. It saves valuable observing time whilst allowing very accurate correction —  leading to a more efficient use of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).

Stefan Kimeswenger from the University of Innsbruck says: “We are convinced that the daily scientific work carried out by astronomers conducting telescope observations becomes much easier with these software tools and that the quality of the scientific results is improved significantly.”

Until now, astronomers traditionally made additional observations to measure, and later correct for, the influence of the Earth’s atmosphere. However, this approach requires extra observing time and is limited by the variability of the atmosphere. The new atmospheric correction packages were released to the general astronomical community in April 2014 and the full underlying atmospheric model has also been made accessible at ESO via a web interface.

The second new software product, developed by the team in Vienna, can assemble many separate images from ESO instruments into mosaicked data products. This technique can be used for imaging datasets from both optical and infrared ESO instruments.

Werner Zeilinger from the University of Vienna comments: “The new software will help astronomers to obtain mosaicked data in a mostly automated way — significantly increasing the efficiency of the data reduction process.

Another team from the University of Linz had already previously developed superfast adaptive optics algorithms for ESO’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) as another part of Austria’s contribution.


[1] The tools were developed by Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics of the University of Innsbruck.

[2] The software modules for the Multi-OB Image Mosaicing Pipeline were developed by Department of Astrophysics and the Numerical Harmonic Analysis Group at the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Vienna.



Stefan Kimeswenger
Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics
Leopold Franzens Universität
Innsbruck, Austria

Instituto de Astronomía
Universidad Católica del Norte
Antofagasta, Chile

Werner Zeilinger
University of Vienna, Austria
Tel: +43 (0)1 4277 51865

Pascal Ballester
ESO Pipeline Systems Department
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6435

Richard Hook
ESO Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

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Panoramic shot of the VLT platform
Panoramic shot of the VLT platform